This Day in Black History: Dec. 14, 1959

Motown Record Company, the first large Black-owned music company in America, was founded.

Posted: 12/12/2012 03:32 PM EST
Motown Record Company

With the creation of the Motown Record Company, the first large Black-owned music company in America, founder Berry Gordy was able to introduce Black popular music to the country and garnered wide acclaim for his artists in the 1960s. The record company was founded on Dec. 14, 1959.

Soulful tunes flowed from the label's top artists including Diana Ross & the Supremes, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson & the Jackson 5, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Lionel Richie & the Commodores. Motown's artists had the crossover power to break through racial divides of the era.

Gordy started in the industry as a Detroit-based songwriter who later took on production and publishing to keep more of the revenues from the label's chart toppers. After forming his first label, Tamla, he was encouraged to create Motown Records to promote Black pop sounds to the mainstream audience.

Smokey & the Miracles' "Shop Around" was the label's first hit song.

Today, Motown Records is a subsidiary of Island Def Jam Music Group.

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(Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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