On Friday, October 28, 2016 a group of 25 Homeschool Connections students, parents, grandparents and staff visited Hitsville USA, now known as the Motown Museum, in Detroit, MI. The museum is located on West Grand Blvd., which is also named Barry Gordy Blvd. to honor the owner of Hitsville USA. The trip was very educational and entertaining. The tour guide first explained to the group how Barry Gordy started Hitsville USA in the house they were standing in with an $800 loan from his family. He quickly became successful and had to buy the house next door, and then the next one, and the next one, and so on, until he owned several houses on the street. Each house was used for different purposes, including one to manage the finances and pay the musicians.
The group then headed into a showcase of pictures showing the history of Hitsville USA. One highlight was seeing Michael Jackson’s glove and hat, and finding out that he gave a very large donation to keep the museum running. The students also experienced clapping and snapping beneath a hole in the ceiling that was used to create echoes for the recordings. In the 1960’s, children would be brought in from the streets to help clap and snap for the recordings and then they were give a 45 record for compensation. The tour guide pointed out that this was how “special effects” were created at that time, as opposed to all of the electronic special effects in music now.
Next the group walked through a passage between the two houses that make up the museum, where they saw 1960’s furniture and décor, vintage candy and cigarette machines, and a time clock. Then they entered into the actual original recording studio where the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, the Jackson 5 and many others recorded their songs. The tour guide pointed out the floor in the producers room where the sound equipment was because the floor was very work out in certain spots from them dancing and stomping during the recordings. The group felt a tingle of excitement as they noticed pictures on the walls of the musicians who recorded there, in the room they were standing in at that moment. The finale was an opportunity to sing “My Girl” as a group in the recording studio, and practice dance moves. One couldn’t help but get chills thinking about the fact that so many famous people also sang and produced records in that same room.
We finished the tour in the gift shop and found some fun memorabilia including postcards, keychains, and much more. The group took photos outside the museum since no photography or videography is allowed inside. If you didn’t get to join the group at the Motown Museum, make a point to visit sometime in the future. In fact, they just announced they will be doing a huge expansion in the near future.
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