AHA Java Soulnation Festival 2010: Tribute to Motown

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Motown Records, also known as Tamla Motown had been incorporated on January 12, 1959 in Detroit, Michigan with “Hitsville U.S.A.” sign was hung out front. Motown played an important role in the racial integration of popular music as the first record label owned by an African American and primarily featuring African American artists to regularly achieve crossover success and have a widespread, lasting effect in the music industry. The man behind the most successful black-own business in the history, who had created musics that appealed equally to black and white young Americans was Berry Gordy, Jr.

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Tribute to Motown (7)In 1960s, Gordy has established the foundation for the success of Motown for many years to come. He turned the production  over to Holland-Dozier-Holland (Brian & Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier), Smokey Robinson, and Mickey Stevenson; they produced millions of hits and achieved a grand success.

Mary Wells was their first artist to be assigned in their record company. She produced numbers of hits such as “My Guy.” They also produced another hit with The Marvelletes“Please Mr. Postman” in 1961 and became their first record to reach the pop charts’ number 1 position. During the same year, The Miracles – “Shop Around” became the first Motown record to sell million copies and The Four Tops also signed in their label. Until 1971, Motown had 110 Top 10 hits and artists such as Stevie Wonder , Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Jackson 5, and Gladys Knight & the Pips.

Motown sounds were catchy and unique. Arrangements overflew with strings and other orchestral instruments. Rhythms were driving and infectious. The new centre of the song became the melodic “hook”.They implied no more than the usual stories of falling in love and heartbreak.

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Tribute to Motown (27)Behind the great success of the Motown musics, there were a tight-knit group of studio musicians, collectively known as The Funk Brothers, to record the instrumental or ‘band’ tracks of the Motown songs. Among the studio musicians responsible for the Motown Sound were Johnny Griffith and Joe Hunter on piano, Joe Messina, Robert White, and Eddie Willis on guitar, Eddie Bongo Brown and Jack Ashford on percussion, Uriel Jones and Richard Pistol Allen on drums, drummer Benny Benjamin, keyboardist Earl Van Dyke, and bassist James Jamerson. The band’s career and work is chronicled in the 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown.

Tribute to Motown (18)In 1973, Berry Gordy moved the Motown empire to Los Angeles with a new generation of singers and songwriters and with a new sound of soul. “I think one of the reason of the great success of the Motown was that they crossover to the white records and became more acceptable to the white people.” Berry Gordy, PBS Interview for “SoulDeep” documentary. It was The Motown Sound that have been the soundtrack of the beginning era of racial integration in America.

Now in the year 2010, Barry Likumahuwa wished to bring the Motown back alive again on stage. “Motown was the one who make the soul songs could reach the  Billboard charts. They were the bridge from soul to pop, making it acceptable to the wider listeners.” said Barry. It was important then to bring something like this since this is a Soul festival, and Barry knew it from the start. Following his own idea, he made up a huge project consisted of some of the finest artists such as Sandhy Sondoro, Dira J. Sugandi, Bayu Risa, Soulmate, SABA, Matthew Sayersz and Aiko.

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3 of SABA brothers opened up the show together with the musicians which featured the horn section, drum, keyboard, bass and sequencer. It was the Jackson 5′s “I Want You Back”Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstitious” was next, brought perfectly by Bayu Risa.  Then Aiko got their turn with The Supremes“You Can’t Hurry Love” and did a duet with “You Are Everything” which was popular through The Stylistics and Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye.

Tribute to Motown (32)Soulmate came in and sang “My Girl” which followed by Dira taking on Smokey Robinson‘s “Cruisin'” and Diana Ross “I’m Coming Out”. Sandhy Sondoro then sang Marvin Gaye‘s “What’s Going On” before the whole performers gathered together to give one last song, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. What a festive it was on the AHA stage. Barry Likumahuwa showed his brilliant idea that was made into reality by the prime performances by everyone. Congratulations Barry and the rest of the team for giving out such a blasting show to remember.

See more pictures:

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Reporter: Riandy Kurniawan, Ata Michaella, Ardhi Saputro, Edria Kosasih
Photographer: I Putu Surya KB

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