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Motown Museum promises that McCartney-refurbished piano will have "a very special life" when it returns

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012

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The Motown Museum's chief promises the historic piano refurbished with a donation from Paul McCartney will have "a very special life in the city" when it returns this fall.

Robin Terry, granddaughter of the late museum founder Esther Gordy Edwards and chairperson of the museum board of trustees, said on Thursday, Aug. 30, that she's hoping for a November unveiling of the 1877 Steinway grand piano, which McCartney offered to have restored after he toured the museum prior to his July 24, 2011 concert at Comerica Park. No firm date or event has yet been planned, but Terry says the museum plans "to use the piano in our education programming and really inspire other talented people in the Detroit area community who are aspiring to be musicians, performing artists and the like."

Motown acquired the piano in 1967 and used in its Studio B in downtown Detroit, where Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Funk Brothers' Earl Van Dyke and others played it. The instrument was moved to Studio A in the Hitsville USA museum on West Grand Boulevard in 1985 and had fallen into disrepair.

McCartney's donation allowed the piano to be sent back to Steinway & Sons in New York, where its strings, hammers, legs and other components were replaced. The original pieces will also come back to Detroit for display in the museum.

McCartney and Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr., will play the piano at a special $10,000-per-person fundraising event on Sept. 18 at Steinway Hall. The venue holds about 100 people.

"It's essentially a send-off" for the piano, Terry says. "The piano has been in New York now for a year, under restoration. That restoration is complete, so we needed an appropriate way to send it off.

"One of the things Paul said is he wanted to see this project through from beginning to end. We thought this was an appropriate way of doing that, unveiling the piano and inviting both Paul and Mr. Gordy to be the first to sort of put their DNA on it, if you will."

Invitations and solicitations have been sent out for the New York event, but those interested in attending can contact the museum at 313-875-2264.

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