Chicago, IL – The HistoryMakers will welcome and honor Berry Gordy, Jr., founder of Motown Records, during An Evening with Berry Gordy on Saturday, November 17, 2012 at The Art Institute of Chicago. The program will consist of a one-on-one interview with Gordy conducted by award-winning journalist Gwen Ifill and taped live for airing on PBS-TV. Ifill’s interview will lead the audience through Gordy’s celebrated life as an entrepreneur, songwriter, record producer, and movie director and producer who has left an indelible influence on music and films both nationally and internationally. Popular recording artist Kem and R&B singer Valerie Simpson will perform a tribute. Gordy’s son, Stefan Gordy — known to the music world as Redfoo — one-half of the hip-hop musical group, LMFAO, will be in attendance.
Julieanna Richardson, founder and executive director of The HistoryMakers, serves as executive producer. Suzanne de Passe, former president of Motown Productions, and Charles Randolph-Wright, director of the upcoming Broadway production of Motown: the Musical, are serving as co-producers. Ray Chew, music director for American Idol, serves as the show’s music producer. Music industry powerhouses Universal Music Group, Sony Music, David Geffen, Clarence Avant, and Jerry Moss are major underwriters for the evening.
Gordy founded Motown Records in 1959 and grew the company into the most successful African American-owned enterprise in the United States. He is also credited with having created a new sound that changed popular music – the Motown Sound. While working on an assembly line at Ford Motor Company, Gordy began writing and selling songs that were recorded by several local artists. After borrowing $800 from his father, he formed his own company – Motown Records – that was headquartered in a house on Detroit’s West Grand Boulevard. In 1960, Motown released the song “Shop Around” written by Gordy’s longtime friend Smokey Robinson and recorded by The Miracles with Robinson on lead vocals. The song sold more than a million copies and helped to launch the most influential era in the history of popular music. Motown quickly turned out successive hits by signing and grooming recording artists such as Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, and Mary Wells.
Founded in 1999, The HistoryMakers is a national, 501(c) (3) non-profit institution that develops, preserves, and provides easy online access to an internationally-recognized archival collection of thousands of African American videotaped oral histories. The oral histories document, promote, and celebrate the successes of African American events, movements, and organizations that are of historic value and importance to the African American community and American society.
As the hallmark celebrity interview program and fundraiser for The HistoryMakers, An Evening With… has previously honored men and women from multiple disciplines who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields. Among those previously interviewed are Harry Belafonte, Dionne Warwick, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, BB King, Colin Powell, Della Reese, Russell Simmons, Diahann Carroll, Denyce Graves, Nikki Giovanni, Andrew Young, and Earl Graves.
The HistoryMakers Presents An Evening with Berry Gordy/2 Interviewer Gwen Ifill is the managing editor of “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for “The PBS NewsHour,” both on PBS-TV. She has been honored by the National Press Foundation, Ebony Magazine, the Radio Television News Directors Association, and American Women in Radio and Television. Ifill has also moderated two vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008 and is the author of the book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.
Richardson is pleased that Berry Gordy’s interview will be featured as one of the PBS-TV specials. “The HistoryMakers is fortunate that Mr. Gordy will appear live in Chicago for a full-length interview with Gwen Ifill. Our special relationship with PBS makes it possible for The HistoryMakers to produce these outstanding programs and to present them during Black History Month,” said Richardson.
For further information on The HistoryMakers, please visit the website at www.thehistorymakers.com.