Status: Wait List

The Motown Sound

It doesn't matter what you wear, just as long as you are there

Fall 2023
Monday Afternoon
Moderators: Nancy Clune, Bob Cohen



In this upbeat seminar, we will immerse ourselves in all things Motown—Berry Gordy, the songwriters, the songs, the singers, the backup singers and dancers, the music industry, and the temper of the times in Detroit in the 1960s and 1970s.


The year was 1964 and the girl group was Martha and the Vandellas. The sound was a blend of R&B, Soul, and Pop fresh out of Detroit, the Motor City—Motown for short. That July “Dancin’ in the Street” rose to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Berry Gordy, Jr. founded the Motown Record Corporation in 1959, long before Motown became one of the world’s most successful Black-owned businesses. Working out of his home in Detroit (emblazoned with a Hitsville banner), Gordy assembled an array of talented artists. Mary Wells, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and the songwriting production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland were just some of the luminaries who got their start at Motown.

ROLE OF PARTICIPANTS: Participants will choose a topic from the moderator’s list or propose another topic. Presentations should take 20–30 minutes, with discussion and additional audiovisual clips from the audience to follow. Presentations can include sheet music, memorabilia, photographs, and audiovisual clips.

We will provide a list of recommended books, articles, CDs, and DVDs.

ABOUT THE MODERATOR: Nancy Clune was born 45 minutes from Broadway, just not in New Rochelle. She loves to sing and wishes she could tap dance. Although at birth Bob Cohen could neither read nor write, he later became a man of too many words. In 2015, he retired from the family business, and soon became enmeshed in LIR. His passions are musical theater, art, reading, and time travel.

Welcome to The Motown Sound!

Participants are welcome to choose a topic from the lists below or propose another relevant topic to the moderators.

We encourage you to use whatever format you prefer, including Power Point, artwork, a musical performance, or inviting an expert.

Resources abound online and in libraries. If you need help finding materials, let us know.

– Nancy Clune
– Bob Cohen

Focus on Individual Artists:

Joe Hunter
Jackie Wilson
Louis Jordan
Lionel Hampton
Smokey Robinson
Mary Wells
“Little” Stevie Wonder
Later Stevie Wonder
Marvin Gaye
Tammy Tyrell

Focus on Groups:

The Marvelettes
The Temptations
The Isley Brothers
The Supremes

Focus on Motown Topics:

Berry Gordy and the Founding of Motown
The Difference Between Soul Music, R&B, and Motown
The 1965 Tamla-Motown Review
American Bandstand and TV Competitors
Detroit Music Clubs
Motown Charm School
The Funk Brothers (in-house band)
Civil Rights in the 1960s/Songs of social justice
The Great Migration to Detroit
Motown Competitors (Chess, Stax/Volt, Sun, Peacock)
LP Record Production (the science of phonograph records)
Dancing in the Motown years (twist, frug, mashed potatoes)
Cholly Atkins’ choreography
Backup Singers
Race Music/Black Radio
Fashion in the 1960s-1970s
Motown in LA (1972- )