Motown Museum Announces Return of Restored Historic Piano to Detroit
Treasured Motown piano to return to Detroit following debut event at Steinway Hall; Motown Museum invites community to see restored piano in its home at Hitsville USA.
Photo: Motown Museum
DETROIT, Mich., April 1, 2013 — One of Motown’s prized musical instruments, a nine-foot 1877 Steinway grand piano is returning to its home in Studio A inside Motown Museum following its extensive restoration and debut last fall at an event benefiting Motown Museum at Steinway Hall in New York City—where Motown founder Berry Gordy and Paul McCartney played it for the first time following its restoration. The piano will be returned to the Museum by Steinway technicians at on Monday, April 1, 2013. Robin R. Terry, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Motown Museum, made the announcement.
The Museum is proud to announce that the piano will be used to its fullest potential in the City of Detroit, where it’s legacy will live on and continue to inspire the thousands of Motown music lovers who visit the Museum each year from both the local community and around the world. To celebrate the piano’s much-anticipated return, the community is invited to visit the Museum and experience the piano’s grandeur with free admission during its annual Esther Gordy Edwards Community Day on Thursday, April 25, 2013.
Mrs. Edwards, who passed in August of 2011 at 91 years old, is best known as a Motown executive, sister of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy and for preserving the original headquarters of Motown Records by creating the Motown Museum on the site of the former “Hitsville USA.” Her career in the music industry was followed by an illustrious second career as an entrepreneur, business leader and influential member of several Detroit and nationally recognized institutions. She was also a nationally recognized philanthropist, mentor to women in business and a staunch advocate for the city of Detroit.
Community Day is held annually to celebrate Mrs. Edwards’ birthday and her relentless passion for the Museum. The Museum is recognized today as a treasured cultural institution due to her belief in the importance of documenting the story of Motown in history—and doing so the right way.
The timing of the piano’s return aligned perfectly with this annual community-focused celebration of the Museum. The exciting day will also feature musical performances by students from Detroit Public Schools.
“This piano is part of our treasured collection of historical artifacts that tell the Motown story. We are thrilled to welcome it back home to Detroit, where it will be used to educate local students about the legendary history created in their hometown and share the Motown story for generations to come,” said Terry. “As the physical space where Motown fans come from around the world to see where history was made, the number of visitors to the Museum increases each year as the interest in Motown and its lasting impact on society continue to grow. As Motown: The Musical opens on Broadway and artists remain inspired by that one-of-a-kind Motown Sound, we hope the local community will join us and celebrate the legacy of Motown as a Detroit-born cultural icon and see this piano in its home at ‘Hitsville USA’ the heart of Studio A.”
The internationally documented story of the restoration of this piano began when Paul McCartney visited the Motown Museum in July of 2011 and was so moved by its musical aura that he later declared it to be the “Holy Grail.” The next day, after his concert in Detroit, McCartney called the Museum to offer his support in restoring the historic piano. It was then transported to New York in fall of 2011 and it was restored to professional recording quality, with all of its internal components restored—including its soundboard, keys, hammers, pins, and strings. While the original strings, hammers and “action” were worn beyond repair, they were retained and will be on display at the Museum for exhibit. The piano’s case was left as is to preserve its authenticity and DNA, while the legs—which were not original legs—were replaced a second time.
The newly-restored piano made its official debut when it was played by Paul McCartney and Berry Gordy at an event to benefit the Motown Museum in September 2012 at Steinway Hall in New York City with 100 patrons of the Museum in attendance.
Built in 1877, the Victorian rosewood piano first made its way to Motown when the studio acquired Golden World Records in 1967. This facility was redubbed Motown Studio B and was used by the stable of Motown artists, musicians and songwriters to create more music by the likes of Marvin Gaye, Earl Van Dyke of the original Funk Brothers, Stevie Wonder and Edwin Starr, to name a few.
The piano is planned to return to the Museum between noon-2 p.m. on Monday, April 1. The Museum’s hours on Community Day on April 25 are 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Photo: Shahar Azran/Motown Museum
Robin R. Terry, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Motown Museum speaks at Project: Harmony on Sept. 18, 2012, where the piano was revealed following its restoration and played for the first time by Berry Gordy and Paul McCartney.
About Motown Museum
Founded in 1985 by Esther Gordy Edwards, Motown Museum is a 501(c)(3) not for profit, tax-exempt organization in Detroit. The Museum is committed to preserving, protecting and presenting the Motown story through authentic, inspirational and educational experiences.