In 1959, after a relative degree of success writing songs for artists, Berry Gordy Jr founded Motown Records – a nod to Detroit’s motor-manufacturing heritage. Similar to the assembly lines of Ford Motors, where he had previously worked, Gordy Jr set about establishing his own conveyor belt, cranking out hits and establishing stars at a remarkable rate. Diana Ross and The Supremes, the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, and Marvin Gaye all passed through the hallowed doors of Motown’s humble two-story house-turned-recording studio on Grand West Boulevard. It is not hyperbolic to say that Motown irrevocably changed the face of American music, in such a way that its influence can still be felt today. Indeed, Motown didn’t simply reconfigure what hits of that era sounded like, but it also played an instrumental role in diversifying the airwaves of America’s radio stations.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Motown, Carhartt WIP will release a thirteen-piece capsule collection in the coming weeks. This is accompanied by this month’s Carhartt WIP Radio show, conducted by Detroit-native Kenny Dixon Jr, aka Moodymann, who has prepared a strictly-Motown mix that showcases his personal love for the label.
A true perfectionist, Dixon Jr presents an offering of rare B-sides, interviews, and live recordings with stars such as Marvin Gaye and the Commodores, as well as lesser known Motown artists like Jr Walker & The All Stars, Kem, Dazz Band and Teena Marie. Asked about his own feelings towards his mix, he answered, “No matter where I’m standing, it’s good to hear home sometimes. These songs are woven into the soundtrack of my own personal movie.”