Berry Gordy to Receive Pioneer Award From Songwriters Hall of Fame

Motown founder hailed as 'innovator and a visionary'

March 12, 2013 8:00 AM ET
Berry Gordy
Berry Gordy
Kal Lee

Few music moguls have had as lasting an effect on popular culture as Motown founder Berry Gordy, whose accomplishments have earned him the Pioneer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Gordy will receive the award at the group's induction dinner June 13th in New York. 

"Berry Gordy is an innovator and a visionary," Jimmy Webb, chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, said in a statement announcing the honor. "Yes, he created a label but more than that, he created a genre. Think about it, he pioneered a marketplace for African-American artistry and then he invited the world in to enjoy it. Berry was way ahead of his time; his young and immaculately groomed and dressed artists were among the first to receive media training. Berry Gordy and the Motown sound are essential to the American music story." 

Video: Berry Gordy on the Miracles' Legacy and Siring LMFAO

Gordy, a songwriter, producer and entrepreneur, founded Tamla Records in Detroit in 1959, which grew into Motown. He built the label into a music empire that launched the careers of stars including Diana Ross and the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5.

The Pioneer Award is the latest in a long line of honors for Gordy, including an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, the President's Merit Award from the Grammys in 2008 and a "Salute to Motown" evening at the White House in 2011. Gordy is also the subject of Motown: The Musical, a new Broadway production based on his life. Preview performances began this week, with an official opening to follow on April 14th.

Gordy will be the second recipient of the Pioneer Award, which was established in 2012 to recognize the creators of musical bodies of work that have had a major influence on subsequent generations of songwriters. Woody Guthrie received the first award last year.

This year's inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame are Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of AerosmithMick Jones and Lou Gramm of Foreigner, Holly Knight, JD Souther and Tony Hatch.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »