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Motown visits Canberra

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

By Arne Sjostedt

It’s probably every musician’s dream to travel the world playing songs they love, to audiences that love to hear them. Which is just what the ensemble of musicians that form the concert experience Songs in the Key of Motown get to do.

Based out of Las Vegas, but playing all over the globe, founder Cushney Roberts says their job is something he and the rest of the team treasure.

“It’s really great be able to carry on the legacy of Motown, and we are always excited about that, especially when we take it to other countries,” Roberts says.

“In a way we are ambassadors of this special music. This music that is special to us and so many other people too.”

Speaking with a sense of reverence about the songs that came out of the Detroit recording studio run by Berry Gordy, Roberts and the team see it as an honour to be able to expand the global family of Motown lovers.

Cushney Roberts
Cushney Roberts

“There is a lot of great music all over the world coming out of various places, but this came out in a special time frame,” says Roberts. “It’s not just the record label, it was more of a musical movement.”

With Gordy spending his early years working for the Ford factory, Roberts says part of the success of Motown was the way he applied principles of the assembly line to running the label.

“They had several great writing teams. They had a weekly meeting where they would play the various songs that had been submitted by the various writers…they gave the thumbs up or the thumbs down on that,” Roberts says. With etiquette departments and choreography departments all working in synch "They really had a system going.”

Creating music that became a significant part of the soundtrack of the 60s and early 70s, “It really had a connection for people both nationwide and worldwide,” says Roberts.

“Everywhere we go people are familiar with the music and sing along. Some people didn’t get to see the original performers so we try to recreate that in a way that is authentic and exciting. It can take you back, if you’ve seen the acts, and it can be a great experience filing in the gap for a lot of people.”

Songs in the Key of Motown plays the Canberra Southern Cross Club Wednesday 19 February. Doors open at 7pm (6 pm for dinner and show). Visit for information.


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