Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
5 Amazing Moments From "Motown 60: A GRAMMY Celebration"
Filmed in Feb. and broadcast on April 21 on CBS, "Motown 60: A GRAMMY Celebration" impressed, captivated, and inspired audiences with a full slate of performers and presenters who were there to commemorate the anniversary of the storied Detroit-based and internationally acclaimed black-owned record label. Produced by Ken Ehrlich Productions in conjunction with The Recording Academy, the three-hour tribute concert featured an array of performers from Smokey Robinson, Pentatonix, NE-YO, Diana Ross, John Legend, Fantasia, Chloe X Halle, Meghan Trainor, Tori Kelly, Thelma Houston, Stevie Wonder and others. "Motown brought people together who didn't realize they had so much in common," famed Motown Records exec Berry Gordy said before noting that he initially had a vision in the beginning to make "music for all people." The stacked lineup of enthusiastic artists and a high energetic crowd signaled that his vision had indeed come to fruition.
Just in case you missed the celebration (or if you want some highlights from the "Motown 60" experience), here are five amazing moments from the show:
1. Diana Ross Serenaded Berry Gordy
The legendary diva may have celebrated her 75th birthday this year, but she didn't miss a beat engaging with the crowd with stirring and pitch-perfect vocals.
One highlight of the show included Ross having a special moment with Gordy at the end of her set, singing a rendition of "My Man" personally for him while saying, "Thank you for all you have done for my life. You are a gift to all of us."
2. Commemorating Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On"
Another great part of the show included a segment celebrating the music of Marvin Gaye and how its material moved into the political sphere with his What's Going On album. Smokey Robinson himself commented how at the time Gaye told him he was "collaborating with God," while Gordy admitted his hesitation in Gaye making potentially polarizing music under the Motown brand. Nevertheless, Gordy relented, noting: "The value of what [Gaye] was writing was so artistic."
3. Ciara Brought Out Her Inner "Superfreak"
GRAMMY-winning artist Ciara paid tribute to '80s pop icon Rick James with a riveting performance of "Superfreak." Decked out in his signature beaded braids hairstyle and a tight jumpsuit, the singer delivered a flawless set with dancers in the background. Known for her entertaining performances, Ciara also performed James' classic "Give it to Me Baby."
4. Cedric the Entertainer, The Host With The Most
Cedric the Entertainer kept the crowd entertained with various skits projected on the screen throughout intermissions of the show. One hilarious part of his hosting duties was a segment titled "The First Four Bars," where audience members were challenged to name popular songs from Motown from the first four bars of the piece. Notable records like "My Girl" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" made for an amusing part in the show where dynamic and fun guests played the game.
5. Stevie Wonder's Grand Finale
Stevie Wonder brought the house down with a mini-concert of some of his hits, as well as anecdotes of his time spent at Motown and how Gordy changed his life by believing in him as a child.
Highlights in the performance included renditions of "Master Blaster (Jammin)," "My Cherie Amour" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours."
In all, Wonder's set can be wrapped up in one sentence, spoken by an audience member attending the show's Feb. taping: "Stevie Wonder playing 'Isn't She Lovely' on a harmonica was something I never knew I needed."