On November 25, the City of Los Angeles hosted the Berry Gordy Square dedication ceremony at the intersection of the streets adjacent to the building where founder Berry Gordy operated Motown Records after moving the company from Detroit. The headquarters remained at that location until he sold the business many years later.
A large crowd came to witness history. Motown music played until the ceremony began. Label artists Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Thelma Houston, Brenda Holloway, Claudette Robinson of the Miracles, Betty Kelly of Martha and the Vandellas; songwriter-producer Mickey Stevenson; former Motown Productions President Suzanne de Passe; Berry Gordy’s son Redfoo; his niece Iris Gordy; and his brother Robert L. Gordy were just a few of the Motown and Gordy family members in attendance. Other celebrities and industry greats who enjoyed the ceremony were Debbie Allen, Judge Greg Mathis, music executive and film producer Clarence Avant and singer Howard Hewett.
The honor for the city, the music world and for the legacy of Berry Gordy was brought to fruition by the legendary record executive, songwriter and producer’s grandniece, Karla Gordy Bristol. Speaking at the dedication ceremony, she said, “It was my true joy and pleasure to initiate this honor for my uncle and spearhead it into existence. A monumental honor for him in Los Angeles has been my desire for several years. The former Motown Records location was my first choice! I’m grateful to Najee Ali for listening to my desires and taking action … straight to Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who said yes immediately. Now, Uncle Berry will be forever displayed at the intersection of Sunset and Argyle, the site of the former Motown Records building in Hollywood on the Berry Gordy Square sign! The [earlier ceremony] speeches brought tears to my eyes. There is nothing better than wanting something for so long and receiving it. I’m also a Motown alumna, and this is for the [other alumni] and everyone. I’m grateful.” Karla then announced the day also kicked off her granduncle’s birthday week. Stevie Wonder sang his “Happy Birthday” song, a tribute to Martin Luther King that was originally released on Motown Records in 1980. The crowd stood and sang along as a cake was brought onstage. Berry Gordy’s actual birthday was November 28, when he turned 90. This year has truly proved to be a monumental one for the Motown founder: In addition to being honored with the square, his history-making record label was subject of both a CBS tribute show, Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration, in April; and a Showtime documentary, Hitsville, the Making of Motown, released in August.
Below are a few photos from the dedication ceremony and festivities that preceded it:
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