"The Reason Diana Ross Could Always Perfectly Pose for Pictures"

Ms. Powell at the Motown Museum, August 26, 2013
Photo by Detroit Free-Press
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...

On February 7, 2012, I had the thrill of a lifetime: Visiting the original Motown recording studio and offices in Detroit. It is now the "Motown Museum." As part of the tour, they spoke fondly of Ms. Maxine Powell, who headed Motown's artist development department. Her job was to mold each of the singers into ladies and gentlemen.

As part of Motown’s Artist Personal Development Department, Powell was a vessel for Berry Gordy’s broader Motown vision: an entertainment legacy that crossed cultural borders.
“She brought something to Motown that no other record company had,” Gordy said Monday in a statement. “She was a star in her own right — an original.”
“I teach class, style and refinement,” was her familiar mantra, and those qualities were obvious in Powell herself: Primly attired and delicately mannered, she radiated a natural dignity and grace that often struck those who encountered her.
Ms. Powell passed away this morning. She was 98. The full story, from the Detroit Free-Press, is here


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