Schomburg’s first exhibition for 2014

This March 5, 2013 photo shows Motown founder Berry Gordy posing for a portrait in Times Square in New York.
Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Black History Month celebrations begin on the first day of February with a musical salute to America’s most successful Black-owned record label with an exhibition at Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture entitled – “Motown: The Truth Is A Hit.”

The very first exhibition for the year features items that highlight Motown’s inimitable founder Berry Gordy and the institution’s most beloved musical acts in a multi-media showcase which chronicles one of the most significant record labels in American music history.

“What a great moment to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement by kicking off our 2014 exhibition season with The Truth Is A Hit,” Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, director of the Schomburg Center said.

“It is impossible to tell the story of that era without the soundtrack of Motown,” he added. “As the country’s foremost repository of Black culture — from books and art to photographs and, of course, music, we look forward to inviting patrons of all ages to learn more about the music that helped make the movement.”

The exhibition will explore Motown’s early start as Tamla Records in 1959 Detroit through pivotal times in both musical and American history. From the great migration of Blacks from the southern states to the industrial cities of the north and west, to the label’s involvement with the Civil Rights Movement, to the protest songs of the Vietnam War, the “Motown Sound” provided lasting, soulful narratives for generations of Black Americans throughout the country and served as a lasting influence for future musicians of all races and genres.

It features video and audio clips, Motown recordings, artifacts from Motown’s popular artists courtesy of the Motown Museum, the Schomburg Center and other private collections. Some of the items on display include:

•Gowns and artifacts of Motown’s popular artists

•The original release of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech recording by the Motown record label

•Video clips of Berry Gordy speaking about Motown and its history as well as its legacy today

•First Motortown Revue at the famed Apollo Theatre

•Pieces from Berry Gordy’s private collection of Chris Clark canvases celebrating iconic Motown artists

“Motown Museum is both pleased and honored to co-curate this exhibit with the Schomburg Center. Both institutions represent so much as custodians of important achievements in African-American history. We are excited with the opportunity to broaden the narrative of the Motown story and place it in the context of the overall the experiences and events that shapes our culture – yesterday, today, and forever,” Allen Rawls and Robin Terry of the Motown Museum. said.

Exhibition-related programs at the Schomburg include a Theater Talk panel discussion with the cast of the Broadway production “Motown the Musical on Feb. 24; and a conversation about Motown’s impact and legacy in the world of fashion, entitled, “Motown + Fashion” on Apr. 17.

The exhibit will be on display at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard and 135th Street in Harlem, thru July 26.

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