Blast From The Past

Celebrating Classic Soul, R&B, and Motown

Farewell Maxine Powell

Maxine Powell

Motown's Elegant Mentor

Maxine Powell, the finishing-school instructor who infused Motown’s young stars with elegance and poise, died Monday morning at Providence Hospital in Southfield. She was 98.

Powell was “peacefully surrounded by Motown family and close friends,” according to a Motown Museum spokeswoman.

■ Freep flashback: Motown greats pay tribute to Maxine Powell

Her cause of death was not disclosed, but close friend Beverly Bantom said Powell had been in steadily declining health since a fall on May 31. Powell slipped into a coma Saturday at the hospital.
Powell was enlisted by Motown Records in 1964 to help mold singers such as Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye into performers fit “for kings and queens,” as Powell often put it. She called them her diamonds in the rough, and her training — along with tough love — aimed to polish their posture, diction, stage presence and sense of self-worth.

Motown artists and other personnel heralded her on Monday as one of the label’s key behind-the-scenes figures, an unsung hero whose contributions came to be publicly recognized only in later decades.

As part of Motown’s Artist Personal Development Department, Powell was a vessel for Berry Gordy’s broader Motown vision: an entertainment legacy that crossed cultural borders.

“She brought something to Motown that no other record company had,” Gordy said Monday in a statement. “She was a star in her own right — an original.”

“I teach class, style and refinement,” was her familiar mantra, and those qualities were obvious in Powell herself: Primly attired and delicately mannered, she radiated a natural dignity and grace that often struck those who encountered her.

But it wasn’t all formality with Powell, a Texas native who grew up in Chicago. There also was a twinkle in her eye that revealed a spirited soul underneath. Former Supreme Mary Wilson described her mentor and longtime friend on Monday as “an extremely earthy black woman.”

“She enjoyed life,” Wilson said. “She loved being out there.”

Powell played the role of tutor well into her later years, quick to dole out instruction even to strangers. A slouching teen at a restaurant risked a snap judgment from the elderly Powell, recalled Wilson: “Young men don’t sit like that!”

“She had that magical, angelic instinct for understanding what someone was made of,” said Allen Rawls, the Motown Museum’s interim CEO. “She knew if she could get through to them in some way, she could help them improve themselves.”

Powell had closed her own Detroit finishing school to take the Motown job, and she continued that work after the label’s departure in the early 1970s, including a stint with Wayne County Community College.

Powell was honored during an August reception at the Motown Museum, her legacy celebrated by the likes of Smokey Robinson, Gordy and Martha Reeves. She appeared frail but delighted by the array of well-wishers — a tribute that Powell had long hoped for, according to close friends such as Reeves.

“She taught us all — men and women — etiquette, class and what you are supposed to do,” recalled the Four Tops’ Duke Fakir on Monday. “That’s artist development. I will truly miss her.”

Wilson chuckled as she recounted Powell’s commands to the Supremes ahead of a national TV appearance: Dance not with your buttocks, she told the group, but with your knees — “you’re not out on the streets here.”

But Powell imparted something far beyond etiquette drills, Wilson said.

“She gave us more than just the tools for the movements and the gowns,” she said. “These were tools for us as human beings.”

And they were lessons that became ingrained for life. As Powell lay in a coma during the weekend, Wilson spoke into her ear by telephone.

“I thanked her so much for making me the person I am today, for helping me understand the grace that was given to me,” Wilson said. “I told her, ‘Everywhere I go, you’re with me.’ ”

A memorial service for Powell will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, 18700 James Couzens, Detroit. The funeral will follow at 11 a.m. Swanson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Additional activities, including a Friday reception, will be announced in coming days.

Contact Brian McCollum: 313-223-4450 or
Source:Detroit Free Press

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Tina Turners’s Raunchy Video

Tina Turner

In 1969 Ike and Tina performed I’ve Been Loving You Too Long. It has been said it was one of the raunchiest performances ever! Tina was alledged to have said that she didn’t want to perform such lewdness but Ike forced her to do it…allegedly claiming humiliation and embarrassment. In this video it appears as if Ike has an eagle eye on her performance.

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Chaka Khan Looks Fantastic!

Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan

Chaka is looking fabulous after a 60 pound weight loss. The singer says she fasted and adopted a high protein diet after being diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure. After the weight loss, fans began tweeting that she bears a strong resemblace to Nicki Minaj…Chaka lightheartedly agrees.

Nicki and Chaka

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Bobby Womack Cancer Free After Successful Surgery

Bobby Womack

Friends, family and fans of legendary soul singer Bobby Womack can breathe a sigh of relief. He is cancer free after undergoing surgery for colon cancer. Womack had been given a dire prognosis and has battled drug abuse and diabetes throughout his career. He is released a highly-anticipated new album in June. Huffington Post reports:

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Farewell Whitney Houston!

Whitney Houston

We are stunned at the sudden passing of Whitney Houston who was found unresponsive while taking a bath on Sat Feb 11 2012. We are praying for Whitney’s family and friends. Thank you Whitney for sharing your beautiful voice. Your songs will forever be etched in my heart. Rest in eternal peace!

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston

Whitney Elizabeth Houston

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19 Year Old Al Sharpton

James Brown Don Cornelius Al Sharpton

In 1974, at the age of 19, Rev Al Sharpton (President of National Youth Movement Inc) appeared on Soul Train to present an award to his idol James Brown.

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Don Cornelius Dancing In The Soul Train Line

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Don Cornelius (Sept 27, 1936-Jan 31, 2012)

Don Cornelius

Don Cortez Cornelius was born and raised in Chicago IL. Don, a former Chicago policeman, began his career in radio as a news announcer and deejay at WVON in Chicago in the 1960s. In 1970, he created a live dance show, Soul Train along with a friend, Clinton Ghent. Soul Train was one of the longest running syndicated shows in history. Teenagers jam packed the small studio at WCIU tv after school. Soon after Soul Train moved to Los Angeles and became ‘the hippest trip in America.’
It as said that Don had been suffering from serious health problems lately. We appreciate Don’s contributions to the music culture. He will certainly be missed.
“As always…and in parting…we wish you Love…Peace…and Soooouuuuul!”

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Farewell Etta James (Jan 25 1938 – Jan 20 2012)

Etta James

Sadly, Etta James has passed away from a long battle with leukemia in Riverside CA. While we will miss you Ms James, we know that you are no longer in pain and suffering. We thank you for your awesome contributions to R&B music. There would have been a huge void had it not been for you. We miss you and love you. May you rest in eternal peace!

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What??? Berry Gordy and President Carter are cousins???

Lillian Gordy Carter ~ Berry Gordy Sr

Accordiing to Wikipedia: Lillian Gordy Carter (August 15, 1898 – October 30, 1983) was the mother of former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter. Carter was born Bessie Lillian Gordy to James Jackson Gordy (1863–1948) and Mary Ida Nicholson (1871–1951) in Richland, Georgia in 1898. (She is actually a biological half 1st-cousin of Berry Gordy Sr, the father of Berry Gordy Jr who founded Motown records). She volunteered to serve as a nurse with the U.S. Army in 1917 but the program was cancelled. Instead, she worked for the US Post Office at Richland before moving to Plains in 1920 where she was accepted as a trainee at the Wise Sanatorium before completing her nursing degree at the Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Atlanta, Georgia in 1923. Lillian’s family initially disapproved of her choice of a career in nursing, but she continued her training and became very successful, earning the respect of both the black and white communities. “Miss Lillian,” as she was often known, allowed black people to enter her home through the front door, rather than through the back door as was the social norm, and would often have them in her living room for casual conversation just as she would a white neighbor. These conversations would even continue after her husband Earl was to arrive home expecting the guests to depart.

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