Miss Manners of Motown

"All my life I was thinking of things that would help my race become outstanding and I thought of class and style ... two things that would be accepted around the world." – Maxine Powell

One of the most influential members of the team of image-makers working for Motown Records was Maxine Powell. Maxine Powell had been a model who ran a successful finishing school in Detroit. She taught all of the artists at the label, in particularly the women, about poise. This included direction on how to walk, how to dress, how to politely converse, and even how to correctly sit in a chair. When artists were in Detroit, they were required to spend two days a week in artist development. Not all the artists at Motown believed they needed polishing, but Maxine is remembered as saying, “One day, you may be performing before Kings and Queens.” This image of comportment and respectability helped Black artists enter spaces previously denied to them, and helped pave the way for future artists, who could be accepted as themselves.