Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Sound of an Era - Forever Motor City

One of the most amazing things music can do is capture the feeling and energy of an era, through sound.

Motown, more than any other record company is known for doing just that. Founded in 1959 in Detroit Michigan by Barry Gordy and his sisters, Motown like many businesses has changed hands several times in the 55 years since. It is now a sublabel under Universal Music Group..

The Motown sound lives on through its original recordings, influences in today's music, and in the interpretations of performers keeping it alive on stage. Forever Motor City captures the Motown sound every night at The Riviera Hotel here in Las Vegas.

"There has never been an explosion of music and energy like the days of Motown".....Early Clover

The era of Motown was part of a time of great change in our country including the civil rights and women's liberation movement, and of course the sexual revolution. There was a whole lot going on and it flew in the face of what was considered "acceptable" at the time. Some would say society needed a little shaking up and others would disagree but in the end the music of the Motown era reflects the energy, angst, spirit and excitement of this chapter in America.

Unlike the Doo Wop era before it, female singers and groups played a visible role in the music and top hits of Motown. Diana Ross and The Supremes, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Mary Wells, The Marvelettes, Kiki Dee, and more, were and are as much a part of the Motown sound as The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye.

I enjoyed meeting Tonja Foster, Gwendolyn Forsyth and Leanna Carter
After checking out Forever Motor City recently I spoke with Tonja Foster, one of the female leads and an experienced performer of the Motown sound. She told me, "The music of Motown continues to influence music today. Often when classic Motown tunes are sampled and covered in current songs and hits, many younger people don't know that it's not a new song or melody!"

To Tonja's point, just a few examples are RUN DMC, who samples Papa Was a Rolling Stone on their single Papa Crazy and Sean Kingston sampling Stand By Me in his song Beautiful Girls, as well as Miley Cyrus and Future's hit My Darlin' which is a fractured and haunting sample/cover of Stand By Me. Ain't No Mountain High Enough was reworked by Amy Winehouse in Tears Dry On Their Own.

A couple of Tonja's favorite songs to perform are You're All I Need to Get By, which she sings with Jerome Jackson and Ain't No Mountain High Enough with the entire cast. When asked what song she would record herself today if given the opportunity she told me it would be Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing Baby.

"My favorite part of the show is the meet and greet after, as many times I see
 tears through smiles and people tell me how touched they are by these songs." 
 ....Tonja Foster, Performer in Forever Motor City

She also said, "I love performing in Las Vegas because in a way it's like Broadway. We have audiences here every night from all over the world."

I can't say enough good things about the Forever Motor City production and performers. They were even better than expected (just like with Forever Doo Wop). Far from rote, the cast's interpretation and talent really make an impact! Not just with well known hits such as Heard It Through the Grapevine, My Guy, Stop In The Name of Love, and more, but also songs such as Pride and Joy and Just My Imagination.

Some of the cast of Forever Motor City, Riviera Hotel & Casino
The host of Forever Motor City, the Riviera Hotel & Casino will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year. The casino opened in the spring of 1955. It has gone through many changes, but has endured as a landmark of the past and current...just like the sound of Motown has.

Forever Motor City cast includes members of the musical groups The Spinners, Main Ingredient, and The Jones. 

Ensemble Cast:
Early Clover, Jerome Jackson, Willie Green, Tom Ross, Terry Forsythe, Tonja Foster, Gwendolyn Forsyth,
Serena Henry, Greg Carter, E.J. Welch, Lawrence Jones, Leanna Carter, Tyneisha Lewis, Farah Melanson, Denita Asbury, Erica Bower, Jill Rock Jones, Paige Siggal

Music by Broadway Legend Gary Kupper, Stage Direction Misty Singer
Assistant Production Operations Manager, Early Clover

Nightly 9 pm Riviera Hotel & Casino

30 Seconds of Forever Motor City... 


Anna Wendt Copyright 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment