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Motown the Musical closes out Berry Gordy Day in Oakland

On Monday, hundreds of fans gathered on the steps of Oakland City Hall to see, Berry Gordy, the man they credit with shaping the songs that defined their youth.
The music mogul behind Motown knows about singing and today he learned what it was like to have Oakland singing his praises.

On Monday, it was Berry Gordy Day in the East Bay as the legendary producer received a key to the city.

The list of singers he's worked with is almost as legendary as the songs they've released.

The man behind Motown's music and the new musical at San Francisco's Orpheum Theater is Berry Gordy. Now 84 years old, he started life in Detroit as the seventh of eight children and tested his fighting spirit in the ring as a featherweight boxer, but that career failed. At 29, when he turned his mind to music, his hits landed at the top of the charts.

"Motown music has always been music with a feeling, with a purpose, with a message," Gloria Grant said.

"Respect, integrity truth, you know those are very, very, big things in Motown," Gordy said.

Gordy signed Diana Ross, the Jackson Five, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, among many others.

"I was lucky, I found the right people and I taught them things that my father taught me," Gordy said.

On Monday, hundreds of fans gathered on the steps of Oakland City Hall to see the man they credit with shaping the songs that defined their youth.

National, state and local politicians sang his praises and Mayor Jean Quan handed Gordy a key to the city.

The cast of Motown the Musical performed four of the show's 40 songs in honor of Berry Gordy Day in the East Bay

Toes tapped, hand clapped and for a moment, Oakland felt like Oaktown of old.

Gordy has no time to slow down, but he's started to think of his legacy and the message he wants young artists to know.

"Anybody that gets joy out of making people happy is a good person and will usually succeed," Gordy said.

Gordy's success weaves through 240 songs and countless memories for all who hear them play.
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entertainment entertainment music jean quan Oakland
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