OAKLAND (KCBS)— It’s Berry Gordy Jr. Day in the East Bay. The legendary impresario and creator of the Motown Sound was honored in front of hundreds in attendance for a public appearance in Oakland Monday morning.
Gordy, 84, who founded the Detroit, Michigan studio and record company in 1959, was present on the steps of City Hall that was turned into an amphitheater for some of “Hitsville USA’s” music, performed by cast members of Motown The Musical, which began its run in San Francisco last week.
Gordy thanked an enthusiastic crowd and told them how important Oakland was to him, his career and to the music. He produced, wrote and guided the career of numerous black artists, most notably during the 1960s. Gordy touched on the tumultuous times of the Civil Rights Movement and the obstacles both he as a business man and the musicians had to overcome in his address.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D—Oakland) called him an American icon, an African-American hero to uproarious applause.
Motown The Musical runs until September 28 at the Orpheum Theatre and features the music of Diana Ross & The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles and The Jackson 5.