Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown records will receive the Pioneer Award at this year’s Songwriters Hall of Fame celebration.
The legendary producer, and man behind the signing of acts including Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five and Marvin Gaye will be the first living individual to receive the honour.
Established in 2012, the award honours those who have had a “major influence of generations of songwriters”, said Hall of Fame chairman Jimmy Webb. It was awarded posthumously to folk singer Woody Guthrie last year.
The ceremony will take place on June 13th in New York, which is also the location of a new musical based on Gordy’s life that made its debut on Broadway earlier this week.
Speaking of Gordy, Webb described him as “an innovator and a visionary”. “He created a label but more than that, he created a genre. He pioneered a marketplace for African-American artistry and then he invited the world to enjoy it.” he said. “Berry Gordy and the Motown sound are essential to the American music story”.
Other inductees into the Hall of Fame this year include Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Foreigner’s Lou Gramm and songwriter Tony Hatch.