Friday, August 26, 2011

Labelobit: Esther Gordy Edwards

Esther Gordy Edwards, Motown executive, has died.

The sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, Esther was most effective in her work bringing the label's artists to the world as head of the International Division. She's the reason why people living this side of the Atlantic are as familiar with the brand as those on the home side.

She also acted as a calming, mentoring influence on the label's younger stars, taking an approach with Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross - amongst others - that helped them cope with the sudden rush of stardom.

After Berry moved the label from Detroit to Los Angeles, Esther remained in the Motor City and oversaw the transformation of the original base into a museum. Although her role wasn't uncontroversial - some felt her tight hold on the project choked off some of the commercial potential of the project - the city was grateful that one Gordy, at least, didn't head off to California.

Esther Gordy Edwards was 91. She died, in Detroit, on Wednesday 24th August.