BUFFALO — February is Black History Month and no celebration of the history of African-Americans and their contributions to American society and the world would be complete without recognizing their impact on popular culture including music and that’s just what Buffalo Elementary School did with a very special musical program.
“Motown” is the nickname of the city of Detroit, Michigan, a name it got for its dominance of the American automotive industry for much of the 20th century.
Motown is also the popular name for the “Motown Record Corporation” founded by African-American entrepreneur Berry Gordy Jr. which, during the 1960s, developed what was known as the “Motown Sound,” a very distinct style of music which combined soul and pop. This combination proved especially successful in the 1960s when Motown had 79 records in the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100. With the Motown Sound, Motown had major crossover appeal which played an important role in the integration of popular music in the 1960s. The company continued to experience great success through the 1970s, 1980s, and into the 1990s as an independent company, not only producing hit music but also expanding into television and movie production. For many decades, Motown was the highest-earning African-American-owned business in America.
Motown’s impact on American music was the inspiration for a Black History Month program on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Buffalo Elementary School.
In a statement released Wednesday, BES announced that its “4th grade students conducted a fun, exciting, and celebratory PTA program! The students were celebrating the accomplishments of African-Americans through song, dance, and performance! Mrs. Heather Barnado, Mrs. Ashley Eller, Mrs. Kacey Thomas-Wilbanks, Ms. Annette Lyles, Mrs. Melissa Justice, Mrs. Teri Lawson, Mrs. Rita Hines, and Mrs. Katherine Sommer-Gough worked diligently with the fourth grade students to present a program entitled ‘The Music of Motown.’”
The press release states that the program “presented flashbacks from the Motor City Radio. Students dressed up to represent each Motown singing group and put their talents on display in front of a packed audience. They sang and performed several songs such as ‘I Want You Back’ by The Jackson 5, ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’ by Gladys Knight and the Pips, ‘Please Mr. Postman’ by The Marvelettes, and ‘Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas.’ The program was a fun and engaging way to celebrate the accomplishments of African-Americans in the music industry.”
Sounds like everybody had a lot of fun at “The Music of Motown” and that’s how it should be with a program that celebrates a great success story like that of Motown. Such a program is not only entertaining but a helpful reminder of the fact that the combination of vision, talent, hard work, and creativity that epitomizes the story of the Motown Record Corporation not only produces great success for those involved, but can also help change a nation and change it for the better.