Smokey Robinson: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize


Smokey Robinson Watch Smokey Robinson receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize (check local listings for rebroadcast information).

Enjoy an all-star tribute to Smokey Robinson, the 2016 recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, with performances by Robinson, as well as Aloe Blacc, Gallant, CeeLo Green, JoJo, Ledisi, Tegan Marie, Kip Moore, Corinne Bailey Rae, Esperanza Spalding, The Tenors, BeBe Winans, and a special appearance by Berry Gordy, Founder of Motown — with Samuel L. Jackson as host and Greg Phillinganes as music director.

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.

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.

“Smokey Robinson: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” is 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. The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is made possible through the generous support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS, and public television viewers. Funding is also provided by The James Madison Council of the Library of Congress, The Ira and Leonore Gershwin Fund, The Leonore S. Gershwin Trust for the benefit of The Library of Congress Trust Fund Board, and AARP. Air transportation is provided by United Airlines.

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