Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Motownobit: Maxine Powell

Maxine Powell, who ran Motown's Artist Development Department, has died.

Powell always had one foot in performance and one in deportment - during the 1930s and early 40s, she would perform a one-woman comedy show by night, teach etiquette by day.

She settled in Detroit in 1951, where she opened a banqueting house and started to promote events; she was instrumental in persuading the city's motor industry to include African American models in their advertising.

Amongst the models she worked with was Gwen Gordy Fuqua. The sister of Berry Gordy, Gwen introduced Maxine to Motown, which would become the only label to train its young artists in how to behave.

As the HistoryMakers site tells it:

Powell taught Marvin Gaye posture and how to sing with his eyes open. Diana Ross, The Temptations, and Martha Reeves acknowledge Powell as the one who taught them how to enter a room and work with their fans.
Maxine Powell was 98; she died Monday, 14th October in Southfield, Michigan.

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