On April 14th 1960, a Detroit songwriter and music producer named Berry Gordy Jr. opened the doors to what would become one of the biggest and most influential record labels in the world, Motown Records. On April 15th and 16th 2010 at 7:30pm at the Community Arts Center, the students of the Uptown Music Collective will pay homage to Berry Gordy Jr. and his historic record label with their presentation of, “Heard It Through The Grapevine: A Tribute to the Music of Motown.”
This epic performance will feature music from a who’s who of Motown artists including The Temptations, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Smokey Robinson, Edwin Starr and more.
Motown Records 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 be known as “The Motown Sound,” a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence. From 1961 to 1971, Motown had 110 top 10 hits, and artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Four Tops, and The Jackson 5, were all signed to Motown labels. In addition to the songwriting prowess of the writers and producers, one of the major factors in the widespread appeal of Motown’s music was Gordy’s practice of using a highly select and tight-knit group of studio musicians, collectively known as “The Funk Brothers”, to record the instrumental or “band” tracks of a majority of Motown recordings.
The Uptown Music Collective is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit school of music, located at 848 West Fourth St. in Williamsport. Established in April of 2000, the Collective has developed a reputation as the premier source of music education in the area. Offering private lessons at all levels on guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals, as well as classes and workshops in music theory, songwriting, and styles such as the Blues, Jazz, Classical and Rock. The primary age range of the Collective is 10 – 18 yrs old, but is open to all ages and levels. Along with private lessons, the UMC offers a myriad of programs including its flagship Performance Program. This program educates students about the ins and outs of major and minor performances, including direction, production, preparation and technical aspects of the performances. The program also brings outstanding student run performances to the area, including the most recent, “Shine on You Crazy Diamond; A Tribute to Pink Floyd,” and “The Evolution of Rock: 1951-1991.”
“Heard It Through The Grapevine,” will feature over 40 music students from the Uptown Music Collective performing influential and important songs from Motown’s history, learned note for note from the original recordings. The large majority of the performers are between the ages of 13 and 19 years of age and have been preparing for this performance for well over two months. Along with the live music, there will be accompanying video and dance presentations as well as a powerful light and sound show organized by the students themselves. As with all Uptown Music Collective performances, the students are not only the performers, but also direct the show. There is also a group of younger students who will serve as stage technicians, spot light operators and video operators.
The student leadership committee for this show includes Bryan Stillman (Freshman, Lycoming College), Jonah Walters (Junior, Lewisburg High School), Collin Dennen (Junior, Sullivan County High School), Kelsey Cantor (Senior, Loyalsock High School), Kelsey Silvagni (Junior, St John Neumann Regional Academy), Josh Hines (Senior, Jersey Shore High School), and Amanda Miller (Senior, Montoursville High School). The leadership committee is under the supervision of Uptown Music Collective Executive Director, Dave Brumbaugh.
Sponsors for this show include The Fairfield Auto Group and The Via Family. Tickets for the performance are $10.00 in advance and $15.00 at the door with all proceeds benefiting the Uptown Music Collective. Tickets are available at The Uptown Music Collective (848 West Fourth St., Williamsport) The Community Arts Center Box Office (220 West Fourth St., Williamsport), The Coffee and Tea Room (410 Pine St., Williamsport), Franco’s Lounge (12 West Fourth St. , Williamsport) and K and S Music (1116 West Southern Ave, S. Williamsport). For more information about, “Heard It Through The Grapevine: A Tribute to the Music of Motown,” or the Uptown Music Collective in general, check out www.uptownmusic.org or call 570-329-0888.
Quotes From UMC Student Performers – - – - -
“I’m looking forward to the Jackson 5 songs. They are non-stop fun! It’s going to be a good time!” – Brianna Pete, Age 17, Vocals
“Through the process of this show, beyond learning the songs, I have learned a lot about the cultural impact that these Motown songs have had on society.” Kelsey Silvagni, Age 16, Vocals
“Before the rehearsals for this show started, I really didn’t know a lot about Motown except for Stevie Wonder. I have learned that Motown is awesome! A lot different than the music I am used too but I like it a lot! Don’t step on the funk!” – Dylan Rockoff, Age 15, Guitar and Vocals
“I’ve always liked the music of Motown. It reminds me of when I was a kid and brings back great memories.” – Mark Dougherty, Age 56, Guitar
“Listening to Motown is something I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own. It’s cool because it’s something different for me.” – Zane Cohick, Age 20, Guitar
“Being a bass player in this show has been very challenging, but fun. I’ve learned a lot from the difficulty of these songs.” – Levi Stover, Age 15, Bass
“I have really enjoyed being on the leadership committee. It’s both fun and encouraging to see kids my own age and younger give up their Friday nights to come in and work on music they may have never listened to on their own. I feel that everyone, including myself, has gotten a deeper appreciation for the music of Motown. It’s going to be the best Collective show to date!” – Kelsey Cantor, Age 17, Bass
“Motown is full of very catchy tunes that make you just want to get up and dance. I hope that the community will enjoy the music as much as the students of UMC do and remember the music that has inspired us as musicians.” – Amanda Miller, Age 17, Vocals/Dance
“It’s cool to put on a show like this because it is the first time students are putting on a full scale performance that isn’t based on rock music. I really enjoyed introducing myself to soul and R&B music for this show” – Collin Dennen, Age 17, Bass/Vocals
“Motown captured the spirit and imagination of American music during the 60s. A time in American society that was marked by turmoil. It’s an honor to perform the music that inspired and empowered so many.” Bryan Stillman, Age 17, Sax