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Oakland: It's Berry Gordy Day, a tribute to Motown Records' music man

Mr. Motown Berry Gordy gets a day of his own in Oakland and the East Bay on Monday.

They'll be dancing in the streets of Oakland on Monday (today) toasting Berry Gordy, the man who created Motown Records in Detroit. Alameda County invites the public to celebrate Berry Gordy Day in the East Bay with an event that features the legendary 84-year-old music mogul.

During the ceremony, Gordy will be presented with a proclamation on the plaza in front of Oakland City Hall at 11:30 a.m. Supervisor Keith Carson, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan are expected to attend.

Why Oakland? Well, for starters, Gordy came to the area last Friday for the opening of "Motown — The Musical" at the SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, which runs through Sept. 28.

But there's a musical connection too. A county statement says the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer wanted to "connect with the people of Oakland and the entire East Bay, where the Motown Sound has always had a home."

Indeed the man known for the Motown Sound promoted artists such as Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Mary Wells, Gladys Knight & the Pips and many others. "Motown" tells his story, and original Motown songs in the show will be performed at the midday event Monday.

In addition, a "Motown Legends" exhibition will open Wednesday at two venues in Oakland. The show features mixed-media portraits of the Temptations, Ross, Marvin Gaye and others from Gordy's private collection, some of which be on sale. They were created by Chris Clark, a white Motown soul singer who was on the record label's roster in the 1960s.

The images will be featured at Joyce Gordon Gallery (406 14th St.) and Everett and Jones barbecue (126 Broadway) for the next few months.

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