In the 1960s, Motown had a program called the Motown Finishing School, which guided the label’s artist in grooming and stage performance.
The program was led by etiquette instructor and talent agent Maxine Powell, who passed away Monday at the age of 98 from natural causes. As the director of Motown’s Artist Development Department from 1964 to 1969, she was considered an essential to the label operations, during the label’s period at being at the original “Hitsville U.S.A.” house in Detroit. Powell worked with artists including Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Supremes, the Jackson Five, and Marvin Gaye, guiding the artists on improving posture, and how to dress and perform on stage, thus helping them appeal to audiences in the pop music landscape Maxine’s work on the Motown artists, have been often witnessed in clips of the performances of each artist, who careers have taken off during the 1960s, and may of which can be seen on various sources including YouTube and a few infomercials.
Less than two months before her passing, Powell was honored by Smokey Robinson and the Motown Historical Museum, deemed as an important and integral part of the label. She was also paid tribute by founder Berry Gordy via videotape, stating she gave the artists style and class. And today, the work she did with artists like the Supremes and the Temptations, shows in those classic performances, that can be seen to this day.