Gordy, who is a producer and songwriter, played a large role in the development of R&B music.
Gordy produced and penned the book of Motown, the new jukebox musical about his life story, which opened April 14 on Broadway. The show features songs made famous by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations and Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five. The production received Tony nominations for Best Orchestrations (Ethan Popp, Bryan Crook), Best Sound Design (Peter Hylenski), Best Actress (Valisia LeKae) and Best Featured Actor (Charl Brown).
Named for the pioneering Philadelphia-born opera singer and civil rights figure, the Marian Anderson Award was created in 1998 to honor artists whose leadership benefits humanity. Previous winners have included James Earl Jones, Mia Farrow, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Gere.
“Few individuals have changed the course of music history as Gordy," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said when announcing the award June 3.