REMEMBER RAYNOMA

Kingsley Abbott’s otherwise excellent article Motown
From The Beginning (RC 360) is marred by a glaring
omission. Berry Gordy’s wife Raynoma Gordy
Singleton was much more than one of the Rayber
Voices. The name says it all, Rayber = Raynoma and
Berry, co-founders of Motown. Despite this, her role
in Motown’s history has been almost completely
expunged.

Raynoma’s 1990 autobiography Berry, Me, and
Motown – The Untold Story lays it all out. She was
songwriter, arranger, producer, A&R, even engineer -
a crack musician with perfect pitch who could write
lead sheets and arrangements without a piano. She
and Gordy together established the partnerships for
Tamla Records and Jobete.

The forerunner for Jobete (named for Gordy’s three
children Joy, Berry, and Terry) was the Rayber Music
Writing Company. Gordy later had her change the
partnerships to his name alone on the grounds that
the company would look less like a ‘mom and pop
operation’ and ‘for tax reasons’ – ‘it would be just
simpler to have it in one name’. Simpler for him.

At the Motown 25 event in 1983, Raynoma was
relegated to the balcony and her name was not mentioned
once that evening. That is just wrong. She
found the building on West Grand Blvd. in Detroit and
ordered the sign reading ‘Hitsville USA’. Even Diana
Ross calls her ‘Mother Motown’. It’s time for writers of
Motown history to give Raynoma Gordy Singleton her
dues.

by Robert Gallagher
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