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Motown marks its 50th anniversary

Berry Gordy in Beverly Hills, California, file pic from April 2008
Mr Gordy started the label from a studio in his cellar with an $800 loan

Motown Records, one of the most influential record labels in the history of popular music, is marking its 50th anniversary.

Originally called Tamla, the label was founded by songwriter and businessman Berry Gordy in the US city of Detroit.

He started the label in 1959 from a studio in his cellar with an $800 loan.

Motown Records boasts nearly 200 No 1 songs worldwide, and has produced stars from Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye to The Temptations and The Supremes.

The trademark of Motown was developing black musical talent and, during the 1960s and 1970s, the label helped launch the careers of a long line of stars such as Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and Michael Jackson.

Mr Gordy changed the label's name to Motown in honour of the city's dominant position in the then-thriving US auto industry.

Congratulations, Motown on 50 great years!
Regina-Gabrielle Berry, Toronto

In its heyday, Berry Gordy likened the label's promoting of black artists to an automobile assembly line that transformed plain metal frames into gleaming motorcars.

While the label had its political moments, it was the crossover appeal of its optimistic, upbeat sound that perhaps did most to help break down racial barriers, says the BBC's Jamie Coomarasamy in Detroit.

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