Motown Founder Berry Gordy Receives Prestigious Kennedy Center Honors


December 7, 2021

He’s getting his flowers!

Motown founder Berry Gordy just received recognition at the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors this past weekend, Billboard reports. 

Gordy founded Motown with just $800, which he borrowed from his family, growing the music conglomerate into a cultural powerhouse that would birth stars such as Diana Ross & the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and more. Not only did Motown create a specific sound for an entire generation, it was the soul heartbeat of music at the time. 


This weekend, the 92-year-old music mogul was honored at the historic Kennedy Center opera house alongside Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, singer Justino Diaz and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels. The 44th annual Honors recognized those who have made significant lifetime artistic achievement. 

David Letterman opened up the ceremony, acknowledging that “the Presidential box [was] once again being occupied,” followed by a standing ovation from attendees for President Joe Biden, the first commanding officer to attend the celebration in nearly four years. Stevie Wonder performed a compilation of Motown hits including “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” “Superstition,” and “I Just Called To Say I Love You.” Celebrities Billy Porter and Smokey Robinson were also in attendance for the festivities. 

Robinson acknowledged he and Gordy’s “bromance,” during the honors, retelling the story behind the creation of his first No.1 hit with Gordy, “Shop Around.” Robinson also performed a song he wrote just a year ago in honor of their friendship. Singer and songwriter Andra Day and the cast of Broadway’s’ Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations, also joined in with soul stirring performances. 


Gordy spoke about the humbling honor, saying, “Each of the artists was just so special. I don’t know what to say other than I’m flowing with love for these people who backed me up and many of whom fought, cried, lived and died to make Motown what it is. It’s not only me; it’s all those people. And some unsung people you don’t hear about.”

In 2017, LL Cool J made history as the first rapper to receive the Kennedy Center Honor and in 2019, Earth, Wind & Fire made history as the first Black musical group to receive the honor. The award is considered one of the highest an artist can receive in the nation. 

The Kennedy Center Honors is scheduled to air Wednesday, December 22nd on CBS and Paramount+.


Thank you for your contributions Mr. Gordy. Because of you, we can!

Photo Courtesy of The Kennedy Center

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