Movie News: Motown to "Sparkle" in cinemas

Motown to 'Sparkle' in cinemas

in cinemas October 5th

In honour of the new movie that is released today at cinemas nationwide; ‘Sparkle’ - Here is an introduction in to the world of Motown.

Motown was a record company founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. and incorporated as Motown Record Corporation in Detroit, Michigan, USA, on April 14, 1960. At this point in time Motown is now a subsidiary of Universal Motown Republic Group, itself a subsidiary of Universal Music Group, and now operates as Universal Motown. Motown Records was also the name of Gordy’s second and record label; the first, Tamla Records, began on January 12, 1959.

Motown has undoubtedly played an important role in the racial integration of popular music, as it was the first record label owned by an African American to primarily feature African-American artists who achieved crossover success. In the 1960s, Motown and its soul-based subsidiaries were the most successful proponents of what came to eventually be known as The Motown Sound, a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence.

Some of the best artists in the world have been under the Motown label; Jackson 5, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and Stevie Wonder, to name a few. A lot of films have been released over the years about Motown, their artists and the unique sound. With 135 number one songs and counting, Motown’s hits continue to appear in commercials, TV and movies, and remain an influence on today’s biggest pop and R&B stars.

There have been a number of films that have been either based around Motown’s artists, have featured the artists or even just based in the Motown period. Some are mentioned below.

Lady Sings the Blues’ was a movie starring one of Motown’s most famous singers, Diana Ross. Diana Ross plays the role of jazz great Billie Holiday. The cast is a who’s who of black performers, including Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor. This film is a significant to fans of Motown because it was produced by Motown Productions for Paramount Pictures.

Thank God It’s Friday’, (1978) another film from Motown Production, although the music in the film is mostly disco. There were some Motown acts, like The Commodores performing ‘Too Hot to Trot’, and Donna Summer’s ‘Last Dance’ won the Academy Award for Best Song.

The Big Chill’. This 1983 comedy-drama starred such folks as Glenn Close and William Hurt. Directed by Lawrence Kasdan, this film is about baby boomers reuniting after fifteen years due to a friend’s death. The music the group loved as young people was Motown music. You’ll hear The Temptations ‘My Girl’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, among other hits on this soundtrack.

Dreamgirls’, this movie is loosely based on the Motown story. Specifically, it alludes to Diana Ross & The Supremes. Starring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Hudson, this film was adapted from a 1981 Broadway musical and it is an amazing movie, if you haven’t seen it and you are a fan of this music I suggest you watch it.

Which brings us to today’s release Sparkle: Musical prodigy, Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) struggles to become a star while overcoming issues that are tearing her family apart. From an affluent Detroit area and daughter to a single mother (Whitney Houston), she tries to balance a new romance with music manager, Stix (Derek Luke) while dealing with the unexpected challenges her new life will bring as she and her two sisters (Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter) strive to become a dynamic singing group during the Motown-era.

There have been many other movies influenced by this genre of music, and I can imagine that will continue in many years to come.

Sparkle is released in cinemas today.

Feature by Christina Benneworth