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Motown comes to France for 60th anniversary

Martha and the Vandellas "Dancing in the Street" (1964) at the Rencontres d'Arles - Fondation Manuel Rivera-Ortiz
Martha and the Vandellas "Dancing in the Street" (1964) at the Rencontres d'Arles - Fondation Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Courtesy Universal Music Group

At the Rencontres d'Arles photography festival in the south of France, the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation is showing Dancing in the Street – put together for the 60th anniversary of Motown. It retraces 30 years of the music label through photos and album covers.

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The music label Motown was created by Berry Gordon in 1959.

"Motown was really made to be a machine for hits. Berry Gordy got really inspired by Fordism because he was from Detroit – the home of Ford," says Nicolas Havette, artistic director and one of the curators of the exhibition Dancing in the Street.

"He’s not an activist, he’s a businessman, he has an industry and this industry has to make cash. And then of course inside Motown, around 90 percent of the artists are black.

"But it was never about being black, it was about making good music," he adds.

Nicolas Havette, in an interview with RFI, explains how Motown is still a source of inspiration 60 years on. And why the 1971 album What’s going on? by Marvin Gaye was key for Motown, and for music in general.

Watch the video

The show is part of a 12-exhibition programme called What’s going on? which runs until 22 September at the Rencontres d'Arles festival. 

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