The Roots of Motown

The Rochester Hills Public Library Brings The Roots of Motown

All three women on stage sign and dance

Cindy Birdsong, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross

Historians Lars Bjorn and Jim Gallert will be at the Rochester Hills Public Library (EHPL) on Thursday, February 28, to discuss the Roots of Motown.

In this presentation, Bjorn and Gallert will dive into Detroit’s late 1940s music scene, with a special emphasis on “John R: The Street of Music.” John R was home to many clubs, hotels and other music sites, including the fables Flame Show Bar. Many of the musicians who worked on John R were later employed by Motown.

“We wanted to take people back in time to just before the Motown music boom,” said Gallert. “We wanted to look at where these musicians came from and what music in Detroit was like before it’s became of national interest.”

“The music history in Detroit is extremely rich, with so many different genres and artists that have roots in the motor city. But even just a glimpse into the 1940s music scene in Detroit is filled with fascinating stories and triumphs.” said Bjorn.

Bjorn and Gallert have been researching, interviewing musicians and writing about Detroit music for 35 years. They have conducted over 100 interviews with musicians and club owners who contributed to the music culture in Detroit. They have hundreds of photographs and other images—many never published—that they use in their presentations. Also featured are rare audio tracks, some of which are unreleased or privately recorded, and some video segments.

“Motown is such a large part of Michigan history, it’s always fascinating to hear more about the golden age of Detroit music. We’re proud to offer programs that dive into interesting historical time periods and uncover things that our patrons may not know,” said Community Relations Specialist Amanda Harrison Keighley.

The program is February 28 from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room and is open to everyone with an RHPL library card. This program is geared toward adults but all ages are welcome. Please register in advance at

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