Motown founder: 'It's the song, stupid'

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Motown founder Berry Gordy says the ailing music industry can reverse its slide if it puts the focus on good music.

‘‘When you get through all of this, it still gets back to the creativity — how good are you?’’ Gordy said as he accepted an award at a luncheon honoring him and producer Jimmy Jam on Friday.

‘‘You can’t replace talent — it’s the song, stupid,’’ he added.

Gordy made music history by launching Motown Records in Detroit decades ago, creating the ‘‘Motown sound’’ with acts like The Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five and other legendary acts.

Gordy is receiving an icon award from The Recording Academy following Sunday’s Grammy telecast, but he and Jam, who along with partner Terry Lewis has created hits for the likes of Janet Jackson, Usher, Mary J. Blige and more, were honored by Universal/Motown, EMI and some of the industry’s top executives at a private luncheon.

‘‘This is the first time I’ve felt success with a legacy,’’ Gordy told the crowd. ‘‘You really only feel successful when your family notices you ... you are my family in the business.’’

Blige held back tears as she lauded Gordy: ‘‘He’s made a foundation that’s so strong.’’

She also celebrated Jam, who is chairman of the Record Academy’s Board of Trustees.

‘‘In the ’80s, every single song on the radio was written by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis,’’ she joked. ‘‘They looked into my life and they made the most influential song of my career ['No More Drama’]. Everyone swears that I wrote that.’’

Lewis also paid tribute to his partner, who he has known and worked with for over three decades. They started making hits together in the group The Time, which will perform on Sunday’s Grammy telecast.

‘‘If he was a woman, I probably would have married him,’’ joked Lewis. ‘‘He is my other half; he completes me.’’


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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on February 9, 2008 5:13 PM.

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