Smokey Robinson: The Library Of Congress Gershwin Prize For Popular Song
Airs Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV
Friday, February 10, 2017
Credit: Courtesy of Cable Risdon Photography
Enjoy an all-star tribute to Smokey Robinson, the 2016 recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
“Smokey Robinson: The Library Of Congress Gershwin Prize For Popular Song,” was taped on Nov. 16, 2016 at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
The show features performances by Robinson, as well as Aloe Blacc, Gallant, CeeLo Green, JoJo, Ledisi, Tegan Marie, Kip Moore, Corinne Bailey Rae, Esperanza Spalding, The Tenors, Joe Walsh, BeBe Winans, and a special appearance by Berry Gordy, founder of Motown — with Samuel L. Jackson as host and Greg Phillinganes as music director. During the event, Robinson was presented the Gershwin Prize by Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, and a delegation of Members of Congress.
The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is named in honor of the legendary songwriting team George and Ira Gershwin. The prize is given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.
The Gershwin Prize was first awarded to Paul Simon in 2007, followed by Stevie Wonder in 2009, Sir Paul McCartney in 2010, the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 2012, Carole King in 2013, Billy Joel in 2014, and Willie Nelson in 2015.
A rhythm and blues icon whose career has spanned more than 50 years, Robinson is considered the poet laureate of soul. His velvet falsetto and incomparable mastery of lyrical verse have created a tapestry of hits that have transcended generations and become a mainstay in American pop music. As a producer, record executive and visionary, Robinson helped lead a musical revolution called the Motown sound.
“As home to the largest collection of original George and Ira Gershwin materials, the Library of Congress celebrates the power of music to entertain and enlighten us,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “We are pleased to honor Smokey Robinson whose music expresses the very best in songwriting.”
Producer, songwriter and Grammy Award winner, Smokey Robinson has released dozens of Top-40 hits and added more than 4,000 songs to his legacy songbook. His music reads like a playlist of Motown’s greatest hits and he is the creative force behind many Motown classics from “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” (1963) and “The Tracks of My Tears” (1965), to “I Second That Emotion” (1967), “The Tears of a Clown” (co-written with Stevie Wonder, 1970), “Cruisin’” (1979), “Being With You” (1981), “Just to See Her” and “One Heartbeat” (1987).
“The Tracks of My Tears” was named to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2007 as one of the nation’s culturally, historically or aesthetically significant sound recordings.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Robinson founded the Miracles while still in high school. Berry Gordy’s first vocal group, The Miracles released the single “Shop Around” in 1960, which became Motown’s first million-selling hit.
Robinson’s collaboration with Gordy from day one of the Motown record label grew into a musical dynasty. Producer, talent scout and songwriter for Motown, Robinson also served as the label’s vice president for nearly three decades.
His accomplishments are many. He has received the Grammy Living Legend Award, NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, the presidential National Medal of Arts Award and the BET Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.
Robinson and the other performing artists will be joined by a house band led by Greg Phillinganes (Music Director / Keys), and including David Delhomme (Keys), Paul Jackson Jr. (Guitar), Teddy Campbell (Drums), Nathan East (Bass), Kevin Richard (Percussion), Fred Irby, III (Trumpet), George Allen (Trombone), Brent Birckhead (Reeds), Kelly Levesque (Background Vocalist), Cindi Mizelle (Background Vocalist) and Jory Steinberg (Background Vocalist).
The full episode will be available for viewing on demand for a limited time after broadcast.
The Library of Congress Interview with Smokey Robinson
Smokey Robinson: The Gershwin Prize | Trailer
A co-production of WETA Washington, D.C., Bounce AEG and The Library of Congress. The executive producers are Dalton Delan, Carla Hayden and Michael Strunsky. The producers are Bounce’s Tim Swift, Kristi Foley and, for the Library of Congress, Susan H. Vita. The director is Leon Knoles. The music director is Greg Phillinganes.
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