Motown music is a musical genre that blends the sounds of rhythm and blues (R&B)and pop music styles. It is played with a variety of musical instruments, from electric to acoustic. Though Motown uses a variety of instruments, some of the most common sounds come from percussion instruments and distinctive vocals.
Though the unique sound that is Motown was influenced by R&B and pop, the vocals closely rival those that are found in gospel music. Such strong vocals and the distinct sound of the blended sound of the tambourine, drums and bass guitar, make this a well-known style of music.
The term was created to pay credit to the place of origin of the musical style. Detroit, which is also known as the motor city, was the first official home of this sound. The musical form that erupted in Michigan quickly gave way to a record company in 1959.
Berry Gordy, Jr. launched the Motown record label in 1959 in Detroit, Michigan. It was the first ever record company to be owned and operated by an African-American and to primarily feature African-American musicians.
From 1959 on, the Motown sound and its record label artists both soared to popularity around the country. In fact, the record company became the largest and most successful independent record company in the United States by the middle of the 1960s.
Besides enjoy quick and well deserved success, Motown was the first genre to have all female groups, instead of just led female artists. Female groups were not the only musicians in this style, however, and many well known bands and artists started on the Motown label. These artists included The Supremes, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops and Diana Ross.
Berry Gordy, Jr. held on to the Motown record label until 1988, when he sold the company to the Music Corporation of America (MCA). The label no longer calls Detroit, the Motor City, home. Along with its parent company, MCA, it is now headquartered in Los Angeles, California.