Two days after Motown songwriting legend, Nick Ashford, passed, Esther Gordy Edwards, older sister of Berry Gordy, passed away. Esther was 91 years old.
She wasn’t a performer. She wasn’t really a composer. She didn’t found the company. But Mrs. Edwards was, by all accounts, hugely instrumental in the success of the Motown label. Mrs. Edwards provided the seed money, out of a Gordy family account, that helped her younger brother, Berry, start Motown records. That $800 loan, excellent talent scouting and being in the right place at the right time, eventually helped Motown become a dominant force in the music business. We all know how great the music was.
Mrs. Edwards is also credited for her skills at scouting talent and promoting the artists and label, both here and abroad. She was a trusted confidant to her brother, and she kept the Detroit Motown offices running after major operations were shifted to Los Angeles in the early 1970’s. Once Motown’s center of gravity settled in Southern California, Mrs. Edwards founded and ran the Motown Museum, a place that still attracts fans from around the globe. I personally visited it last week (though I didn’t go inside.) Paul McCartney stopped there during his Detroit tour stop earlier this summer.
She’ll be laid to rest on August 31.