Like most people entering this new year, I have been very reflective over the last few weeks. Being the granddaughter of Esther Gordy Edwards, the founder of Motown Museum, has always given me great pride. Since I took on this role in 2002, it has been my mission to continue my grandmother’s work of presenting and preserving the authentic story of Motown Records. Throughout the years, seeing smiling faces from all over the world peering at this magical blue and white house has made my work worthwhile. It is my responsibility to make sure people experience how my uncle Berry Gordy’s genius brought to life hits by the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5 and countless other legends. Being CEO of Motown Museum is an honor that I do not take lightly.
Now more than ever I see my grandmother’s vision as something bigger than even she imagined. Last year, we developed valued community partnerships, we broke new records with visitor attendance, expanded educational programs and launched our long-awaited membership program. The year was full of so many highlights. It was powerful to witness the Motown-inspired spoken word performances during our Motown Mic series. Another highlight was experiencing Grammy-nominated artist Kem and jazz singer and actress Rhonda Ross Kendrick interact with high school performing arts students during our Motown EDU summer camp. We even saw our beautiful Hitsville U.S.A. float in America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the second year in a row.
Besides these milestones, what I treasure the most from 2015 was the growth of our team that lives and breathes the mission each day. Our Museum is one of the highest ranked international destinations and tourist attractions partly because of the programming, creativity and passion each person here at the Museum pours into telling this important American success story. With this remarkable team, community partners, sponsors and the supporters who make this all worthwhile—the vision for Motown Museum in 2016 is a bright one.
Broadening the Story of Motown
The history of Motown will always represent The Temptations walk and those high notes only little Michael Jackson could hit. The music is the pulse of the legacy but there is more to the Motown story that we have all grown to love. I am thrilled to see new programming at the Museum this year, such as our soon to be announced Black Forum Fridays series. Also, we will offer exclusive events to our members this year. These new initiatives will highlight aspects of Motown’s legacy that may be unknown by many. We can’t wait for our supporters to witness the Motown story in other thought-provoking ways.
Breathing the Spirit of Detroit
Motown Records was founded in Detroit with many artists coming right from the city’s neighborhoods. Detroit is experiencing a renaissance that is rich with opportunity and pride. We are anticipating even greater economic development in the city this year that will impact our own neighborhood. The Museum looks forward to continuing to contribute to the renewed spirit in Detroit through partnerships and programming. We are enthusiastic about opportunities like our Buddy’s Pizza promotion that brought together two local favorites. In addition to local partnerships, our initiatives like Motown Mic and Motown EDU will give Detroit-area youth and artists a platform at an iconic institution right in their own backyard.
Keeping Motown’s Legacy Alive
Every year the mission of the Museum becomes more critical. As we lose cherished members of the Motown family, it is imperative that their authentic stories are told to intergenerational audiences. In 2016, the Museum’s initiatives will prioritize educating youth and current generations on all that happened in this little house that rocked the world. This year we will add to our gallery a new installation that will tell the story of Motown’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Everyday in 2016, we will work tirelessly to make sure Motown lives on forever. I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend this upcoming year.
To all supporters near and far of Motown Museum, I wish you a happy new year. I hope your resolutions include stopping by Hitsville U.S.A., you never know what surprises this house will have in store.