When it comes to show business families, few — if any — have had the impact of the Gordy family.
Under the tutelage of Berry Gordy, Motown Records produced some of the biggest hits of the Golden Age of Music. From a former boxer to creating “The Sound of America” — according to The Motown Museum — Berry Gordy has certainly created a lasting empire. According to Celebrity Net Worth, in fact, Berry Gordy’s net worth even after he sold Motown Records in 1988 is a gob-smacking $400 million.
And the Gordy family continues to be relevant in both music and business. Whether it’s by blood or by marriage, chances are that you’re currently enjoying music, movies, television shows, and more from this show business legacy family.
Believe it or not, too, there are some members of the Gordy family that are nowhere near the entertainment industry. Did you know that one of the most prominent Gordys went into politics — going so far as to become one of America’s presidents?
In short, members of this family are responsible for legendary music, legendary television shows, and American history. They are, in fact, Black history in action. Let’s take a look at some other members of the Gordy family who have gone into “the business” — and one surprising member of the family you definitely didn’t see coming.
Editorial note: The net worth listed in this piece is a speculative estimate drawn from a variety of online sources.
Beyoncé and Solange
Beyoncé and Solange are, of course, legends in their own right. But they’re actually also related to the Gordy family by marriage. In 2015, Essence reported that Ms. Tina Knowles — Beyoncé and Solange’s mother — married Richard Lawson, whom she’d known for more than 30 years prior to tying the knot. Before Richard married Ms. Tina, however, he was married to Denise Gordy, with whom he had a child, actress Bianca Lawson.
Speaking of Bianca Lawson, the actress — best known as Darla in “Queen Sugar” — is also the half-sister of Marvin Gaye III, whose father — according to Rolling Stone — is none other than the late, great Marvin Gaye.
Marvin Gaye III’s mother is Denise Gordy, who is Berry Gordy’s niece. Denise’s father, George, was one of Motown’s executives before he passed away in 2011.
Bianca isn’t the only actress in the family.
Rhonda Ross Kendrick
Rhonda Ross Kendrick is Diana Ross’s oldest child and has followed her mother onto the stage with an entertainment career (According to O Magazine, she even was her mother’s opening act on her 2013 tour!). Her father is none other than Berry Gordy.
While some members of the Gordy family — like Rhonda and Bianca — chose a life in front of the camera, some chose a life behind the scenes.
Gwen Gordy Fuqua
Berry Gordy’s late sister, Gwen, may not have fronted any major musical acts, but according to SecondHand Songs, her pen is responsible for some of the biggest classic hits of the early era of music. “Money (That’s What I Want)” came from her hand, as did “Lonely Teardrops.” She passed away from cancer in 1999.
Gwen isn’t the only member of the Gordy family who is responsible for launching the careers of some legends.
Iris Gordy is the daughter of the late Fuller Gordy, who is Berry Gordy’s oldest brother. The Michigan Chronicle reports that Iris was responsible for the careers of some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Rick James, Teena Marie, DeBarge, and Tata Vega. She also was behind the boards for artists like The Four Tops, The Temptations, Diana Ross, and Marvin Gaye.
While the elder Gordys spent their time behind the music industry scenes, other members of the Gordy family chose a music industry life in the spotlight.
Born Kennedy William Gordy, Rockwell changed his name to “make it” of his own accord. His biggest hit was “Somebody’s Watching Me,” which featured none other than Michael Jackson on the backing vocals.
Let’s take a look at other members of the Gordy family who have had musical success.
Comprised of Sky Blu and Redfoo, LMFAO seemed to come out of nowhere with their infectious hit, “Party Rock Anthem” (You know you’re singing along to it right now!).
But as it turns out, there was nothing accidental about their rise to superstardom. Sky Blu’s real name is Skyler Austen Gordy, and he’s Berry Gordy’s grandson. Redfoo’s real name is Stefan Gordy, and he’s Sky Blu’s uncle.
And they aren’t even the most surprising members of the Gordy family.
President Jimmy Carter
We know what you’re saying: Jimmy who, now?
Yes, President Jimmy Carter — America’s 39th president, and the most famous peanut farmer in history — is a member of the Gordy family.
FamousKin breaks down the family tree a little more, so here we go: President Carter’s mother is Bessie Lillian Gordy, though she’s better known as Lillian Gordy Carter. Ms. Bessie, who was born in 1898, is the daughter of James Jackson Gordy and Mary Ida Nicholson Gordy.
James Jackson Gordy is the half-brother of Berry Gordy I, who is the Motown Records’ founder’s grandfather. James Jackson Gordy and Berry Gordy I have the same father, James T. Gordy.
That means President Jimmy Carter and Berry Gordy are second cousins!