A first look: Motown Museum celebrates initial phases of expansion

Posted at 10:54 PM, Aug 08, 2022

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Some of the music industry's most recognized faces were in Detroit Monday night to celebrate a major project that's finally coming to fruition.

Hitsville USA, the birthplace of Motown, is now expanding into a creative hub for the next generation.

Like Motown music, this expansion was just an idea until the right people got together and brought it to life. After opening remarks, a young group who calls themselves The Fab 5 serenaded a crowd of star-studded guests.

William "Smokey" Robinson was beaming as he watched from Studio A's front porch.

"We see these young people now learning to sing and write and produce and to do all those things that we learned, so the legacy is being carried on," Robinson said.

The three Motown-era buildings located on West Grand Boulevard were previously owned by Motown records.

Two of them have now been linked and feature professional recording pods, community space and premier programming to foster emerging talent

"I learned how to sing in a church, but when I got here, I learned how to sing with the community and all the songs were about love," said Martha Reeves, lead singer of the Motown girl group Martha and the Vandellas.

Reeves said she's confident the expansion will preserve history because according to it her, it was never about the building — it's the spirit that took hold inside.

"We are so excited about what's happening in our future connecting," said David Ellis, the digital media curator for Motown Music. "Our new generations with legends you see here today."

"It is all about bridging that gap between the young and the old," he added.

Phase 1 and phase 2 are now done. Digital rendering show a robust plaza at the completion of phase 3.

"I just want to thank all of you for showing up for this project and just being so committed to the vision we carry on at Motown Museum," said Robin Terry, a Motown Museum chairwoman.

The blue building on the boulevard always mattered to Detroiters, but Robinson says it changed America and it still has more to give.

"We talk about how powerful it is here in Detroit, but I've been all over the world and people know about it everywhere I go," Robinson said.

The project now has $43 million and counting behind it. This includes a $5 million pledge from Dan Gilbert of Rocket Mortgage.

The Motown Museum will restart limited walking tours on Aug. 14 and the full tours will begin on Oct. 1.