Robinson pays tribute to Motown’s chief of charm

DETROIT (AP) — A chief architect of “the Motown sound” is paying tribute to another pioneer responsible for developing the charm, grace and style of the legendary Detroit label’s roster of artists.

Singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson returned Monday to Motown’s former studio-turned-museum to honor Maxine Powell. Powell directed the label’s Artists Development Department, also known as “Motown’s Finishing School.”

Robinson performs a Detroit-area gig this week. He says Powell was as essential to the operation as Motown’s songwriters, producers and musicians.

She taught etiquette to many, including Robinson’s Miracles, the Jackson Five and the Supremes.

Powell is being honored during an invitation-only event at the Motown Historical Museum. The building once known as “Hitsville, U.S.A.” churned out many of the label’s global hits from the late 1950s to the early ’70s.

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