As part of Billboard‘s Black History Month celebration, we’ve asked Black artists spanning all genres to compile their own unique playlist exclusive to Billboard‘s Spotify account. Each song they’ve chose represents their love for the culture across the diaspora — from childhood favorites to songs that make them feel free. Today, Motown Records president and executive vp of Capitol Music Group Ethiopia Habtemariam shares her soundtrack.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to represent the brand and legacy that Berry Gordy built,” Habtemariam says. “Motown has accomplished the unimaginable in 60 years and means so much to people everywhere. Similarly, we also want to provide a platform for today’s artists and talent who have a voice, have something to say, and are cultural influencers. I consider it a great responsibility to foster the path of future icons at Motown. We are the voice of today and tomorrow and celebrate Black History month all year long. Motown has a history of nurturing and supporting artists who have a vision for their careers, signing acts that are reflective of the times and artists who speak for and to culture around the world.
“That is a part of the legacy I want to preserve and I feel that our current roster and rich catalog is evidence of that,” she continues. “These artists and their songs epitomize not being afraid to be yourself during times when it may feel hard, because your strength comes from what makes you uniquely different and, recognizing the power in others helps propel your collective dreams to the next level. My hope is that the landscape will continue to change.”
Motown Records is celebrating its 60th anniversary all year. At this year’s Grammys, Jennifer Lopez and Ne-Yo performed a medley of the legendary record’s most popular tunes. Smokey Robinson will host the concert special Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration, which will air April 21 on CBS and feature performances from Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Diana Ross and others.
Listen to Habtemariam’s playlist, which she curated as part of Motown’s 60th anniversary, below.