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The Black Voice – Motown, Soul and the Integration of Popular Music

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            Motown is a recording company formed by Berry Gordy, Jr. on 1959 based in Detroit. It was first named as Tamla Record but later it became known as Tamla-Motown. Some of its artists were Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops and the Jackson Five (“Motown Records,”).

Motown Records had helped in promoting black musicians, black music and racial integration. Black music was less promoted unlike the white Americans’; but Motown helped in developing talented black artists and gave them breaks in the world of music. During that time, African-Americans were highly discriminated and they expressed themselves through music such as rock ‘n’ roll. Rock ‘n’ Roll played a major part in racial integration which was the trend during the 1950s (“Rock Music,”). It is a musical style formed from rhythm, blues, and country which later gave rise to rock music.

It was the first African-American record label that popularized musical genres such as soul, R&B, hip hop and pop. Motown Sound became its famous music using tambourine drums, and bass guitar. Motown Sound is also incorporated with a call and response (“Motown Records,”). Call and response is consists of two phrases with the second phrase as a response to the first phrase. It is the tradition that African-American used in public gatherings, rituals, and also as a vocal and instrumental expression. It originated in West Africa and was introduced in America through different cultural expressions (“Call and response (music),”).

Call in response is common among black music. It was first used in Gospel music, worship songs, back in 18th century; but today not only Gospel music uses call and response (“History of Gospel Music,”). R&B, hip hop, rock, blues, even rock ‘n’ roll and rock music also accompanied this style to their songs. It is also common in folk singing in parts of Europe and classical music. African culture not only greatly influenced musical trends but it also gave rise to different musical styles in the past and today.


Call and response (music).   Retrieved 6 June, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_and_response_%28music%29

History of Gospel Music.   Retrieved 6 June, 2007, from http://bostoncommunitychoir.org/history_of_gospel_music.htm

Motown Records.   Retrieved 6 June, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motown

Rock Music.   Retrieved 6 June, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_music

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