Motown refers to a music genre which combines the styles of rhythm and blues (R&B) and pop music. This type of music is played with various instruments, both acoustic and electric, but the predominant sounds are those of percussion instruments and strong vocals.
Although Motown blends pop and rhythm and blues (R&B) music, its vocals are close to that of gospel music. Aside from distinctive vocals, this music genre is also characterized by the mixed sounds of drums, tambourines, and bass guitars.
Motown is called as such to give credit to its place of origin, Detroit, which is also called the motor city. In the year 1959, the Motown record label was launched in Detroit, Michigan by Berry Gordy, Jr. This record company was the first one which is owned by an African-American and also features musicians that are mostly African-American.
Starting from 1959, the Motown music genre as well as the recording artists quickly gained popularity throughout the country. The Motown record company even became the most successful and largest independent recording company during the middle of the 1960s in the United States.
In addition to the rapid success of Motown, it is also the first music genre which had all-female groups, in contrast to just lead female singers. However, all-female groups are not the only types of musicians that use this style of music. Some of the most popular bands and singers that started out on the Motown label include Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, The Miracles, and The Four Tops.
The Motown record label was managed by Berry Gordy, Jr. until 1988, when he decided to sell the recording company to the Music Corporation of America (MCA). From Detroit, Motown was transferred and is now based in Los Angeles, California, together with its parent company Music Corporation of America.