Editors’ Notes Despite its inauspicious start in a residential Detroit home, Motown surpassed even its own grand ambitions as a world-beating hit factory by the mid-’60s. Founder Berry Gordy captained a dream team of young Black producers and songwriters, including the multi-talented Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, introducing high-drama soul to mainstream pop with a long string of hits. The Supremes became the decade’s definitive girl group, while Motown introduced legends like Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5 to the world. From there, the label adapted to rapid social changes, with output more explicitly about civil rights and Black life in America.

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