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An Evening With Ethiopia Habtemariam, The President of Motown Records

Okla Jones, III
Posted by Okla Jones, III on Oct 5

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photo by DV Photo & Video

Motown Records is an iconic label that was formed in the late 1950’s by Berry Gordon in Detroit, Michigan. It played a significant role in the integration of African-American music due to the label’s constant crossover success. Motown produced acts such as The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, The Temptations, as well as Gladys Knight & The Pips, just to name a few. Although it has had its ups-and-downs, Motown has maintained its relevancy in music since 1959. In 2011, after years name-changing and rebranding, the label reverted back to its original name, with the incomparable Ethopia Habtemariam serving as its President.

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photo by DV Photo & Video

On the second night of the A3C Festival & Conference, the Managing Editor of Bossip, Janee Bolden, had an intimate conversation with the current President of Motown Records. Ethiopia discussed her journey, beginning with her moving to Atlanta from Alabama when she was in the 6 th Grade. It was in Georgia where she developed her passion for music and the business that surrounds it. However, the move to Atlanta was not without its struggles – Ethiopia was initially self-conscious about her first name, due to some of the negative stigmas attached to the country. As time progressed she developed a sense of pride for her beautiful name, rather than embarrassment.


One of the highlights of her conversation in the Toyota Music Ballroom, Ethiopia spoke about her being able to witness the growth of the Atlanta music scene as it stands today. The creation of LaFace Records by L.A. Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Jermaine Dupri’s SoSoDef label, along with super producers like Dallas Austin; the capitol of Georgia was an amazing place to be during this era in the industry. During her internships with various influencers at such a young age, Ethiopia established valuable relationships and soaked up knowledge from nearly everyone that she encountered.

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photo by DV Photo & Video

Janee Bolden brought to the audience’s attention a moment that was special to her, and that was Ethiopia being able to appear on the cover of Billboard Magazine with Juliette Jones, and one of her mentors, Sylvia Rhones, during the summer of 2018. This was important because it again highlighted the presence of African-American women in leadership roles in this male-dominated industry. In signing artists like Ludacris, Polow Da Don, Keri Hilson and Ciara,
Ethiopia touched base on her leadership tactics, and made it statement: “Atlanta is the new Motown.” During the Q&A portion of the panel, she gave crucial insight on how an artist, producer or A&R can stay ahead of the curve in the music business.


An Evening With Ethiopia Habtemariam fully acknowledged the work and impact of the current President for the revamped Motown Records. From her experience at the legendary Southern-playalistic Cookout, to her collaborations with Coach K and Pee of Quality Control, Ethiopia has had her finger on the pulse of Atlanta Culture for over two decades; and plans to be around for many more.

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photo by DV Photo & Video

Okla Jones, III

Written by Okla Jones, III

Okla is a visual artist, journalist and content creator from New Orleans, La., who strives for achievement in every field of human endeavor.

Topics: a3c18, a3conference

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