Motown
Motown Records, which celebrated its 50 anniversary on January 12, 2009, is the first record label owned by an African-American to primarily feature African-American artists who achieved crossover success on white music charts.  The Motown sound was a distinct style of soul music with a touch of pop.  One of the most successful acts to walk the halls of Motown were the Temptations.  Some of the other acts which graced the studios of Motown included Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mary Wells, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, the Commodores, the Jackson 5 and a host of other well known acts.
 
The Temptations, formed in 1960 and  known for its recognizable choreography, distinct harmonies, and onstage suits, has been said to be as influential to soul as The Beatles are to pop and rock. Having sold tens of millions of albums and boasting 15 #1 hits, the Temptations are one of the most successful groups in music history and were the definitive male vocal group of the 1960s.
 
The Miracles (known from 1965 to 1972 as Smokey Robinson & the Miracles) is a rhythm and blues group from Detroit, Michigan, notable as the first successful group act for Motown Records. The Miracles went on to become one of Motown's signature acts of the 1960s, during which time their original lead singer and founding member Smokey Robinson became one of the most successful songwriters and record producers of all time.
 
The Supremes rose from the poverty of Detroit’s Brewster housing project to become Motown’s most consistent hitmakers and the most popular female group of the Sixties. The Supremes sang in a polished style that bridged the worlds of pop and soul. In June 1965, they set a record for the most consecutive Number One hits by an American group: “Back in My Arms Again,” “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me” and “Stop! In the Name of Love.”
 

Marvin Gaye was a singer-songwriter and instrumentalist with a three-octave vocal range. Starting as a member of the doo-wop group The Moonglows in the late fifties, he ventured into a solo career after the group disbanded in 1960. Due to solo hits including "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)", "Ain't That Peculiar", "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and his duet singles with singers such as Mary Wells and Tammi Terrell, he was crowned "The Prince of Motown."

 

Stevie Wonder is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. A prominent figure in popular music during the latter half of the 20th century, Wonder has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits, won twenty-two Grammy Awards the most ever won by a solo artist in history, and the lifetime achievement. He has also won an Academy Award for Best Song, and been inducted into both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters halls of fame.

 

The Four Tops are a vocal quartet, whose repertoire has included doo-wop, jazz, soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, and showtunes. Among a number of groups who helped define the Motown Sound of the 1960s, the Four Tops were notable for having Stubbs, a baritone, as their lead singer; most groups of the time were fronted by a tenor. The group crafted a stream of hit singles, including two Billboard Hot 100 number-one hits: "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" and "Reach Out I'll Be There".

 
Gladys Knight & the Pips were an R&B/soul musical act from Atlanta, Georgia, active from 1953 to 1989. The group was best known for their string of hit singles from 1967 to 1975, including "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (1967) and "Midnight Train to Georgia" (1973). The longest-lived incarnation of the act featured Gladys Knight on lead vocals, with The Pips, who included her brother Merald "Bubba" Knight and their cousins Edward Patten and William Guest, as backup singers.
 
Mary  Wells helped defined the early sound of Motown Records in the early sixties. Wells was said to have been part of the charge in black music onto radio stations and record shelves of mainstream America "bridging the color lines in music at the time." With a string of hit singles including "Two Lovers" (1962), the Grammy-nominated "You Beat Me to the Punch" (1962) and her signature hit, "My Guy" (1964), she became recognized as "The Queen of Motown."
 
Martha and the Vandellas were among the most successful groups of the Motown roster. In contrast to other  groups such as The Supremes and The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas were known for a harder, R&B sound, typified by "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave," "Nowhere to Run," "Jimmy Mack" and their signature song, "Dancing in the Street."
 
The Commodores were formed at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1967 as the Mystics, becoming the Commodores in 1969. The group was signed by Motown in 1972, and started out as the opening act for the Jackson 5 on their European tour. It was two years before the Commodores ever started recording, but once they did, they became Motown's best-selling male group of the '70s with ballads like "Three Times A Lady," "Easy" and "Still."
 
In the words of Berry Gordy, founder and driving force behind Motown, The Jackson 5 were “the last big stars to come rolling off my assembly line.” Led by 11-year-old Michael Jackson - who was joined by brothers Jermaine, Tito, Marlon and Jackie - the Jackson 5 were young, fresh and full of energy. The group made music-business history when their first four singles shot to #1 in 1970. That record-breaking string of 45s-"I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There"-endeared the hard-working Jackson’s to a public that found their soulful singing and tight choreography an entertaining diversion from all the social and political cataclysms weighing upon the country. Like all of Motown’s acts, the Jackson 5’s popularity transcended race. Everyone loved the Jackson Five, especially the cherubic, charismatic Michael. The reasons for their out-of-the-box success boiled down to one simple truth: “The singing and the songs make us happy,” wrote soul-music biographer David Ritz. “They are moments of incandescent beauty - young, wildly optimistic.”