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Best Motown Books You Must Read

Below I’ll give you my selections for the best Motown books by a few categories. I will cover these and other great books more in depth later.

1. The Story of Motown (2018)

 Best Motown Books You Must ReadIn January 1959 Berry Gordy borrowed $800 from his family and founded the Detroit-based record company that in less than a decade was to become the largest black-owned business in the United States. It also became one of the most productive and influential producers of popular music anywhere in the world, mainly by combining the best features of black and white American popular music.Even a short list of the recording and performing talent that Gordy recruited, trained and produced for his company is awesome: Diana Ross, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Mary Wells.The…
Author(s): Peter Benjaminson, Greil Marcus

2. Where Did Our Love Go?: The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound (Music in American Life) (2007)

 Best Motown Books You Must ReadWhere Did Our Love Go? chronicles the rise and fall of Motown Records while emphasizing the role of its dynamic founder, Berry Gordy Jr. First published in 1986, this classic work includes a new preface by Nelson George that identifies Motown’s influence on young recorders and music mogels of today, including R. Kelly, D’Angelo, Sean Combs, and Russell Simmons. Gordy’s uncanny instinct for finding extraordinary talent–whether performers, songwriters, musicians, or producers–yielded popular artists who include the Supremes, the Jackson Five,…
Author(s): Nelson George, Quincy Jones

3. Motown Encyclopedia (2014)

 Best Motown Books You Must ReadMotown means different things to different people. The mere mention of perhaps the most iconic record label in history is often enough to invoke memories and mental images of Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Jackson 5, The Supremes and numerous others. With each group recalled, there is an accompanying piece of music of the mind, from ‘Baby Love’, ‘My Girl’, ‘Signed Sealed Delivered’, ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, ‘ABC’ and ‘Tears Of A Clown’ and countless more. Quite often, you can ask people what kind of music they like and…
Author(s): Graham Betts

4. Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson (1989)

 Best Motown Books You Must Read(Guitar Book). Bassist James Jamerson was the embodiment of the Motown spirit and groove the invisible entity whose playing inspired thousands. His tumultuous life and musical brilliance are explored in depth through hundreds of interviews, 49 transcribed musical scores, two hours of recorded all-star performances, and more than 50 rarely seen photos in this stellar tribute to behind-the-scenes Motown. Features access to 120-minutes of audio! Allan Slutsky’s 2002 documentary of the same name is the winner of the New York Film Critics “Best Documentary of the Year” award! Songs include: Ain’t No Mountain High…
Author(s): Dr. Licks , James Jamerson, et al.

5. Motown Anthology: Piano, Vocal, Guitar (1998)

 Best Motown Books You Must Read(Piano/Vocal/Guitar Songbook). A must-have collection of 68 Motown masterpieces, including: ABC * Ain’t No Mountain High Enough * Ain’t Too Proud to Beg * Baby Love * Dancing in the Street * Easy * For Once in My Life * How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) * I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) * Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) * Let’s Get It On * My Girl * Shop Around * War * You Can’t Hurry Love * many more! Sample Music Notation [24kb PDF] #266,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #136 in Vocal #68 in Soul Music (Books) #170 in Piano, Vocal…
Author(s): Hal Leonard Corp.

6. Motown 50th Anniversary Songbook (2009)

 Best Motown Books You Must Read(Piano/Vocal/Guitar Songbook). With more than 180 No. 1 hit songs worldwide, Berry Gordy’s legendary Motown Records forged the careers of superstars such as Diana Ross & the Supremes, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, and the Temptations. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the House That Gordy Built, this compilation features the signature sound from the stars who recorded in the Detroit offices known as “Hitsville U.S.A.” The 100 hits include: Ain’t Too Proud to Beg * Baby Love * Dancing in the Street * Endless Love * For Once in My Life * I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar…
Author(s): Hal Leonard Corp.

7. Switch, Debarge, Motown and Me! (2019)

 Best Motown Books You Must ReadThe autobiographical story of Switch, an R&B/funk band that found fame recording for the Gordy label of Motown in the late 1970s, releasing hit songs such as “There’ll Never Be”, “I Call Your Name”, and “Love Over & Over Again”. This book takes its readers on a musical journey following the quest of their dreams and all its details. The Switch story is an amazing shake-your head page turner that will fill eyes with tears, hearts with joy. Read along with the author and original member of this amazing band. There will never be a story like Switch,…
Author(s): Gregory Williams

8. Motown: The Sound of Young America (2019)

 Best Motown Books You Must ReadNow in paperback, the definitive visual history of Motown, the Detroit-based record company that became a music powerhouse.The music of Motown defined an era. From the Jackson 5 and Diana Ross to Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, Berry Gordy and his right-hand man, Barney Ales, built the most successful independent record label in the world. Not only did Motown represent the most iconic recording artists of its time and produce countless global hits―it created a cultural institution that redefined pop and gave us the vision of a new America: vibrant, innovative, and…
Author(s): Adam White , Barney Ales, et al.

9. Dancing in the Street: Motown and the Cultural Politics of Detroit (2001)

 Best Motown Books You Must ReadDetroit in the 1960s was a city with a pulse: people were marching in step with Martin Luther King, Jr., dancing in the street with Martha and the Vandellas, and facing off with city police. Through it all, Motown provided the beat. This book tells the story of Motown–as both musical style and entrepreneurial phenomenon–and of its intrinsic relationship to the politics and culture of Motor Town, USA.As Suzanne Smith traces the evolution of Motown from a small record company firmly rooted in Detroit’s black community to an international music industry giant, she gives us a clear look at cultural politics at…
Author(s): Suzanne E. Smith

10. Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-60 (2001)

 Best Motown Books You Must ReadWhen most people think of Detroit and music, they think of the Motown sound. But what many people forget is that Detroit has a remarkable jazz history, which became a major influence in what came to be known as the Motown sound.Before Motown is the first book about the history of jazz in Detroit. It shows the significant impact Detroit has had on the development of jazz in America, with its own sound, distinct from that of the other jazz centers of Chicago, New Orleans, St. Louis, or Kansas City. Starting with the big bands in the 1920s,with groups like the McKinney’s Cotton Pickers and Jean Goldkette’s Orchestra, and continuing into…
Author(s): Lars Bjorn, Jim Gallert

11. Motown’s First A & R Man Presents The A & R Man (2015)

 Best Motown Books You Must ReadSometimes gritty other times heartfelt, Mickey Stevenson keeps it rated Real. He doesn’t sugar coat the rough edges of his real life stories; so the reader essentially rides shotgun, shoulder to shoulder with Stevenson, back in time to the beginnings before Berry Gordy dubbed him The First A&R Man of Motown Records. Mickey shines light on the love, hate and heartbreak embraced and endured by himself and other unsung heroes of Hitsville, USA during an era that spanned race wars and segregation all the way to the infamous Motown 25 and beyond. The straight…
Author(s): William Mickey Stevenson, Ashley Stevenson

12. Motown: Drum Play-Along Volume 18 (2011)

 Best Motown Books You Must Read(Drum Play-Along). Play your favorite songs quickly and easily with the Drum Play-Along series! Just follow the drum notation, listen to the CD to hear how the drums should sound, then play along using the separate backing tracks. The lyrics are also included for quick reference. The audio CD is playable on any CD player, and also enhanced so PC & Mac users can adjust the recording to any tempo without changing the pitch! 8 Motown hits, including: Ain’t Too Proud to Beg * Dancing in the Street * Get Ready * How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) * I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) * Sir Duke * Stop! In the…
Author(s): Hal Leonard Corp.

13. Motown’s Greatest Hits: E-Z Play Today Volume 109 (Motown Greatest Hits) (1992)

 Best Motown Books You Must Read(E-Z Play Today). The second edition of this collection featuring our world-famous E-Z Play Today notation includes 44 of Motown’s biggest hits: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough * Dancing in the Street * Heatwave * I Heard It Through the Grapevine * Just My Imagination * My Girl * Papa Was a Rolling Stone * Three Times a Lady * and many more….
Author(s): Hal Leonard Corp.

14. Song Journey: A Hit Songwriter’s Guide Through the Process, the Perils, and the Payoff of Writing Songs for a Living (2019)

 Best Motown Books You Must ReadA well written song gives you the power to touch, teach, and reach deep into a person’s soul. But when you hit a creative wall, it can feel like the power has gone out.In those moments, who would you turn to to get your writing back on track?How about a songwriter who’s worked with legendary artists and coached thousands of songwriters in person, online, over the phone, and in workshops all over the world?Mark Cawley’s songs have been on over 16 million records and with his first book, Song Journey, he gives you a first-hand look inside the songwriting industry. You’ll learn how to get your song going, how to keep it going,…
Author(s): Mark Cawley

15. Motown: Easy Piano Collection (2016)

 Best Motown Books You Must Read(Easy Piano Songbook). 35 hits from the legendary record company in easy piano arrangements, including: ABC * Ain’t No Mountain High Enough * Ain’t Too Proud to Beg * Baby Love * Dancing in the Street * Endless Love * How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) * I Heard It Through the Grapevine * I’ll Be There * Isn’t She Lovely * Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) * Let’s Get It On * My Girl * Please Mr. Postman * Stop! In the Name of Love * Three Times a Lady * The Tracks of My Tears * What’s Going On * You Can’t Hurry Love * and many more….
Author(s): Hal Leonard Corp.

Best Motown Books You Must Read

We highly recommend you to buy all paper or e-books in a legal way, for example, on Amazon. But sometimes it might be a need to dig deeper beyond the shiny book cover. Before making a purchase, you can visit resources like Genesis and download some motown books mentioned below at your own risk. Once again, we do not host any illegal or copyrighted files, but simply give our visitors a choice and hope they will make a wise decision.

Women of Motown: An Oral History

Author(s): Susan Whitall
ID: 2464736, Publisher: BookBaby, Year: 2017, Size: 3 Mb, Format: epub

Once in a great city : Detroit 1963: cars, Motown, labor, race, hope

Author(s): Maraniss, David
ID: 2084375, Publisher: Maraniss, David, Simon & Schuster, Year: 2015, Size: 33 Mb, Format: epub

Rhythm ride: a road trip through the Motown sound

Author(s): Motown Record Corporation;Pinkney, Andrea Davis
ID: 2727573, Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, Year: 2015, Size: 7 Mb, Format: epub

Please note that this booklist is not errorless. Some books are truly chart-busters according to Chicago Tribune, others are written by unknown writers. On top of that, you can always find additional tutorials and courses on Coursera, Udemy or edX, for example. Are there any other relevant links you could recommend? Leave a comment if you have any feedback on the list.

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