Motown Signs Legendary Poet Langston Hughes

Motown announced the signing of legendary poet Langston Hughes in industry trade magazines today (November 22, 1963).

In addition to Langston Hughes, Berry Gordy signed poet Margaret Donner.

Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes
The pair were signed to collaborate on a project titled Writers on the Revolution, which would eventually be released on Motown’s Black Forum label.

Also announced as new Motown signees was Ernie Wilkins, who was noted for his orchestral arrangements with artists like Count Basie, Harry James and Ray Charles.

Wilkins left his hometown of New York to relocate in Detroit, so he could be closer to the Motown label.

Langston Hughes and Margaret Donner were signed to Motown’s Black Forum imprint, which was formed as Gordy’s response to address the growing civil rights movement in a conservative fashion, so not to offend Motown’s white fan base.

“I saw Motown much like the world Dr. King was fighting for with people of different races and religions working together harmoniously for one common goal,” Berry Gordy Jr. said.

Black Forum released albums by Martin Luther King Jr., Elaine Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Ossie Davis and others.

The records sold so poorly, that Berry Gordy didn’t release Writers on the Revolution until 1970.

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