Michelle Obama visited Detroit’s Hitsville U.S.A., home to the Motown Museum, for the first time on Tuesday (Dec. 11) to attend a roundtable discussion with young men of color from Wayne State University. The event, sponsored by Motown and organized by the former FLOTUS’ Reach Higher initiative, was part of a line of similar community events in each of the cities on her 2018 book tour.
In celebration of the visit and Obama releasing her memoir, Becoming, just last month, Motown curated a classic Motown playlist inspired by moments from her life, many of which are recounted in the book. The 37-song playlist includes music from the Supremes, Jackson 5, Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, among others.
In Becoming, Obama discussed her grandfather, known as Southside, and his connection with music. “His love for music was infectious,” she wrote. “Once Southside moved to our neighborhood, I’d pass whole afternoons at his house, pulling albums from the shelf at random and putting them on his stereo, each one its own immersing adventure. Even though I was small, he put no restrictions on what I could touch.”
“He’d later buy me my first album, Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book, which I’d keep at his house on a special shelf he designated for my favorite records,” she continued. “If I was hungry, he’d make me a milk shake or fry us a whole chicken while we listened to Aretha or Miles or Billie. To me, Southside was as big as heaven. And heaven, as I envisioned it, had to be a place full of jazz.”
Stream the entire “Becoming Motown” playlist below.