"You had style," Gordy said. "You gave them class."
Powell came to Detroit from her native Chicago, where she had been an actress and dramatic reader. She opened a finishing and modeling school in Detroit, believing, as she says, she "could offer some class and style to Detroit."
The lessons have long since stuck with singer Martha Reeves, who said she retained Powell during her four-year term on the Detroit City Council that ended in 2009. Powell visited schools and retirement homes to develop poise and pride in students and residents, Reeves said.
Reeves remembered going through those lessons with her group, The Vandellas, alongside the Supremes and others.
"We thought we knew everything because we could sing and dance, but she taught us how to stand and how to carry ourselves," Reeves said. "She made a difference in all of our lives."
Powell, who adamantly refuses to reveal her age but is well into her 90s, told the crowd that she "will teach until there's no breath left in my body."
"I love all the Motown artists," she said. "This has been a blessing. I thank God for allowing me to be here."
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