DETROIT — The restoration of one of Motown’s prized musical instruments, a nine-foot 1877 Steinway grand piano, is now complete and will make its debut at a charitable event at Steinway Hall in New York City, where Motown founder Berry Gordy and Paul McCartney will play it for the first time following its restoration.
The charity event entitled Project: Harmony will be held Tuesday, September 18, 2012 to benefit Motown Museum. Following the piano’s thrilling re-introduction at the hands of these two musical icons, the piano is going back on exhibit to continue to be showcased at Motown Museum in Studio A. Additionally, the Museum plans to utilize the newly restored piano in future performance and educational events. The Museum is currently working with Steinway to coordinate the return of the piano sometime in late fall and the community will be invited to take part in its return to Hitsville USA.
“We are grateful to be the recipient of such an incredible and generous gift thanks to Paul McCartney and Steinway & Sons,” said Robin R. Terry, chairman of the board of trustees of Motown Museum, who made the announcement. “Upon the piano’s return to the Motown Museum, our primary goal is to use it to its fullest potential for the City of Detroit, where the piano’s legacy will live on and continue to inspire Motown music lovers.”
When McCartney visited the Motown Museum in July 2011, he was so moved by its musical aura that he later declared it to be the “Holy Grail.” The next day after his concert in Detroit, he called the Museum to offer his support to restore this historic piano. Today, just under one year later, it has been restored to professional recording quality, with all of its internal components restored — its soundboard, keys, hammers, pins, and strings. While the original strings, hammers and “action” were worn beyond repair, they were retained and will be returned to the Museum for exhibit. The piano’s case was left as is to preserve its authenticity and DNA, while the legs — which were not original legs — were replaced a second time.
Built in 1877, the Victorian rosewood piano first made its way to Motown when the studio acquired Golden World Records in 1967. This facility was redubbed Motown Studio B and was used by the stable of Motown artists, musicians and songwriters to create more music by the likes of Marvin Gaye, Earl Van Dyke of the original Funk Brothers, Stevie Wonder, and Edwin Starr, to name a few.
Patrons of this event are showing their support for Motown Museum and the importance of this cultural gem with their own contribution of $10,000 following the lead of Paul McCartney and Steinway & Son’s generosity. Individuals interested in witnessing the piano’s debut should contact Motown Museum.