Motown Records close associate Maxine Powell has reportedly passed away at the age of 98 after decades of inspiring some of Detroit’s biggest musicians including Diana Ross.
According to reports, the charm coach’s life came to an end Monday (October 14) in Michigan.
Maxine Powell, who was responsible for developing the charm, grace and style of Motown Records’ artists during the Detroit label’s 1960s heyday, has died. She was 98. Motown Museum CEO Allen Rawls says Powell died Monday at a hospital in Southfield, Mich. She didn’t sing or write songs, but those associated with Motown say Powell was as essential to the label’s operations as any performer or producer. (Billboard)
Motown founder Berry Gordy has released a statement following Powell’s passing.
“She brought something to Motown that no other record company had,” Gordy said in a statement Monday. “She was a star in her own right – an original. She will always be remembered for her style and class, and she instilled that into the Motown artists by teaching them how to walk, talk and even think with class.” (Philly)
The late Powell avoided music and focused on working on an artist’s mannerisms.
She didn’t sing or write songs, but those associated with Motown say Powell was as essential to the label’s operations as any performer or producer. Powell directed the label’s Artists Development Department, also known as “Motown’s Finishing School.” She guided many, including Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Jackson Five and the Supremes. She emphasized how artists should carry themselves, treat people and dress. One performer on the roster that didn’t need any of her help, she says, was Stevie Wonder. (Billboard)
The Motown secret weapon is most known for inspiring and helping the careers of iconic musicians.
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. (USA Today)
Check out footage of Maxine Powell: