Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Esther Gordy Edwards dies at the age of 91

Esther Gordy RIP Photo: Detroit Free Press
Esther Gordy RIP Photo: Detroit Free Press

Motown executive Esther Gordy Edwards has died at the age 91. Edwards, along with her brother Berry Gordy Jr, shaped the legendary Detroit record label making it the iconic musical landmark it is today.

A Motown executive for nearly three decades, she held various posts including; senior vice president, corporate secretary and director of Motown International Operations. One of her jobs was to help filter the instantly recognisable "Motown sound" to audiences all over the world. Other job role/s would see her work closely with household names such as; Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye amongst others - many citing Edwards as a "mentor figure" at an early part in their careers.

Her fastidious nature would become vital as Edwards would go on to prove pivotal in helping to preserve Motown's legacy/maintain its legendary status, turning the label's original Detroit headquarters into a museum. She attempted this as the rest of the Motown clan left for the dizzy heights of California (1972), preferring to stay behind to set up/preserve Motown history/memorabilia. This would include saving famous recording area Studio A and setting up Motown museum "Hitsville" on West Grand Boulevard (1985).

Edwards was born in 1920 in Oconee, she was the eldest of eight children. She married Robert Bullock (son, Robert Berry Bullock). She later married state Rep. George Edwards (step-mother to his son, Harry Edwards)

A STATEMENT FROM BERRY GORDY JR

Today our family mourns the loss of our beloved Esther Gordy Edwards.

Esther Gordy Edwards was a top Motown executive, businesswoman, civil and political leader, who received numerous awards, commendations and accolades. She was the most educated in our family and was the go-to person for wisdom in business.

Whatever she did, it was with the highest standards, professionalism and an attention to detail that was legendary. She always came out a hero. Esther wasn’t concerned with being popular. She was dedicated to making us all better—the Gordy family and the Motown family.

Esther turned the so-called trash left behind after I sold the company in 1988 into a phenomenal world-class monument where Hitsville started—The Motown Museum.

She preserved Motown memorabilia before it was memorabilia, collecting our history long before we knew we were making it. She nurtured and held it together through the years, protecting the Motown legacy for generations to come—which is only one of the reasons people all over the world will remember and celebrate Esther Gordy Edwards.

Despite my sorrow, I will proudly continue to honor and celebrate her. She will always be my big sister and she will forever live in my heart.

Berry Gordy, Jr. and the entire Gordy Family
Founder of Motown
August 24, 2011
Words LEE TYLER

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