Music Series at Berklee: Motown Songbook

Joyce Linehan
February 6, 2010
Orlando Dixon of Colmar Manor, Maryland, is among the student vocalists who will grace the Berklee Performance Center stage.
Motown student performer Karen Rodriguez hails from New York City.
Larry Watson, an ensembles professor who teaches a Motown performance class, will be the show's MC and a guest vocalist.
Smokey Robinson speaks at the 2009 Berklee commencement.
Photo by Phil Farnsworth
Photo by Phil Farnsworth
Photo by Phil Farnsworth
Photo by Phil Farnsworth

The 2009/2010 Music Series at Berklee continues with The Great American Songbook: The Music of Motown on Sunday, February 28, at 7:30 p.m., at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. General admission tickets are $15–20 and are available at the Berklee Performance Center box office, at, or by calling 617 931-2000. For information, call 617 747-2261 or visit

Hosted by ensembles professor and featured vocalist Larry Watson, and under the direction of ensembles professor Ken Zambello, Berklee pays tribute to the songwriters who created the Motown sound: Berry Gordy, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Smokey Robinson, William "Mickey" Stevenson, Johnny Bristol, Barrett Strong, Marvin Gaye, Ashford and Simpson, Stevie Wonder, and others.

Students, faculty, and alumni will perform such Motown classics as "Please Mr. Postman," "Shop Around," "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," "The Tears of a Clown," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," "Superstition," "My Girl," "I Want You Back," "ABC," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and other songs made popular by such musical giants as Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Jackson 5, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and more. The program will be enhanced by production, direction, and arranging from Berklee professors and administrators Donna McElroy, Winston Maccow, Jay Kennedy, Tom Stein, Russ Hoffman, and producer Rob Rose.

According to Ken Zambello, "We are timing the concert with the yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of Motown, one of the most successful record companies in music history. Motown artists sang of love and other human concerns with which people of all races, religions, and political beliefs could identify. To many listeners, they were the sound of young America."

A perennial favorite, Berklee's annual Great American Songbook concert pays tribute to songwriters who contributed to the compendium of mid–20th-century popular song. Past honorees include George Gershwin, Burt Bacharach, Duke Ellington, and Stevie Wonder.