Motown Founder Berry Gordy To Receive Pioneer Award At Songwriters Hall Of Fame Gala

Previously Announced Inductees Include Tony Hatch, Mick Jones & Lou Gramm, Holly Knight, JD Souther, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry

New York, NY- March 12, 2013 – Motown founder Berry Gordy will be the recipient of the prestigious Pioneer Award, to be presented at the 44th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner slated for Thursday, June 13th at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City, Songwriters Hall of Fame Chairman Jimmy Webb announced today. 

The Pioneer Award was established in 2012 to honor the career of a historic creator of an extensive body of musical work that has been a major influence on generations of songwriters.  Gordy is the first living person to receive this distinction, which was presented posthumously to Woody Guthrie in 2012.

“Berry Gordy is an innovator and a visionary.  Yes, he created a label but more than that, he created a genre,” said Webb.  “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.”

MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL, based on the life of iconic Motown founder Berry Gordy, features music and lyrics from the legendary Motown catalogue and a book by Gordy.  Broadway performances began March 11 toward an official opening night on April 14 at The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

Gordy is the founder of Motown, the hit-making enterprise that nurtured the careers of Diana Ross and The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, and many other musical legends.  The “Motown sound” reached out across a racially divided, politically and socially charged country to transform popular music.  In the 1960s, Gordy transcended barriers by booking his artists on shows like American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show.  As a songwriter, Gordy has written and co-written 240 songs for his Jobete Music publishing company’s Motown catalogue.  He is also a producer, director, entrepreneur, teacher and visionary, who was actively involved in the Civil Rights movement, releasing an LP of the recorded speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entitled “The Great March to Freedom.”  His films include Lady Sings the Blues, which garnered five Academy Award nominations, and Mahogany

Along with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, Gordy has been honored with many accolades, including his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, the GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons’ President’s Merit Award in 2008 and an honor from President Barack Obama with a “Salute to Motown” evening at the White House in 2011.  Gordy’s unparalleled contribution to music and popular culture is chronicled in his autobiography, To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown.

Previously announced inductees at this year’s SHOF event include Tony Hatch, Mick Jones & Lou Gramm, Holly Knight, JD Souther, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry

Ticket Information:
Tickets for the Songwriters Hall of Fame event begin at $1000 each, and are available through Buckley Hall Events, (212) 573-6933. Net proceeds from the event will go toward the Songwriters Hall of Fame programs.

Fran Curtis
Rogers & Cowan
[email protected]

Lauren Wilsman
Rogers & Cowan
[email protected]