Gordy is only the second person to receive the award which was established last year to honor a person with an extensive body of work that has influenced generations of songwriters. Last year's recipient was Woody Guthrie.
Jimmy Webb, Chairman of the Hall, said "Berry Gordy is an innovator and a visionary. Yes, he created a label but more than that, he created a genre. Think about it, he pioneered a marketplace for African American artistry and then he invited the world in to enjoy it. Berry was way ahead of his time; his young and immaculately groomed and dressed artists were among the first to receive media training. Berry Gordy and the Motown sound are essential to the American music story."
While African American artists had occasionally broken through onto the pop charts, it was Gordy who first crossed an entire roster of artists with their associated sound from the world of R&B onto the pop charts. His artists like the Supremes, Temptations, Four Tops, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye transcended race to consistently place their records at the top of the charts.
Gordy's Motown: The Musical, his Broadway effort that he calls his "last major endeavor", began previews last night.