Thursday, November 23, 2017
Motown Week Special on “Tavis Smiley”
By Sentinel News Service
Published July 27, 2009


Motown Week Special on “Tavis Smiley” Includes Berry Gordy and Lionel Richie

A Different Interview Every Night July 27-31


Beginning Monday, July 27, Berry Gordy kicks off a full week of Motown-focused interviews on PBS’ “Tavis Smiley.” Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, recounts his experiences with Michael Jackson, his discovery of Stevie Wonder, and much more. Later in the week, singer/songwriter Lionel Richie, songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson, and musicians Lamont Dozier and Raphael Saadiq tell Tavis Smiley about their experiences climbing the charts. Check local TV listings for show times.


Berry Gordy founded Motown Record Corporation in 1959. Gordy displayed a knack for identifying and bringing together musical talent, and he signed artists such as The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and Jackson 5.


Ashford & Simpson — the husband and wife duo that got their start writing songs for artists like Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin — joined Motown Records in 1966.  In his interview, Nickolas Ashford talks about the origins of the song, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”: “I was walking down Central Park West, and the buildings were so tall, and I was so hungry and pitiful at the time. I needed real help in New York, I had no friends, and I looked up at those buildings and I couldn’t see the sky or nothing and I said, ‘Well there ain’t no mountain high enough,” and the words just fell out of my mouth, really.”


Singer, songwriter and music producer Lionel Richie got his start as the lead singer of The Commodores in 1968.  Since then, Richie has sold over 100 million records and in 2008 was awarded the George and Ira Gershwin Lifetime Achievement Award. He tells Tavis Smiley about his earliest impressions of “Motown University”: “I’m a college guy. So everything to me was college and instructors…And I remember my first time in Motown Studios, and there is Marvin Gaye sitting right over there, and Smokey Robinson right over there, and Stevie Wonder walks in the door. Now I don’t know about any other university, but this one had my attention…This was a serious university.”


The special Motown Week also features Lamont Dozier — who wrote and produced songs for artists such as The Supremes and The Four Tops and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song in 1980s for “Two Hearts,” a song he wrote with Phil Collins – and

Raphael Saadiq — who got his start with the group, Tony! Toni! Toné! has produced for Grammy award-winning artists such as The Roots and John Legend.  Saadiq credits the music of Motown as his inspiration.



TAVIS SMILEY is a unique hybrid of news, issues and entertainment, featuring interviews with politicians, entertainers, athletes, authors and other newsmakers. Tavis Smiley was recently named to TIME’s list of 100 “Most Influential People in the World.”


TAVIS SMILEY is produced by The Smiley Group, Inc./TS Media, Inc. in association with KCET/Los Angeles. Major funding is provided by Wal-Mart and Nationwide Insurance. Additional support comes from PBS.


The 30-minute program airs weeknights on PBS. To get local listings and to watch past episodes, please visit:

Categories: TV

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