Lehman Center for the Performing Arts continues its tremendous 31st season with a superstar of popular song – the GRAMMY Award-winning “poet laureate of soul music,” Smokey Robinson, on Saturday, April 28 at 8:00 p.m.
The velvet-voiced singer/songwriter, whose $60-million-plus in record sales helped turn Motown into the largest Black-owned corporation in the world, recorded 37 Top-40 Motown hits between 1960 and 1987, including mega-hits “Tears of a Clown,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” “Shop Around,” and “The Tracks of My Tears.”
Pronounced by Bob Dylan as America’s “greatest living poet,” Smokey’s countless honors have included the Grammy Living Legend Award, the National Medal of Arts Award, Kennedy Center Honors, NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, and inductions into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.
For this special night, concert-goers will have the opportunity, for an additional cost to attend a post-concert “Meet & Greet” with Smokey and take photos with him.
Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is on the campus of Lehman College/CUNY at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, N.Y. 10468. Lehman Center is accessible by #4 or D train to Bedford Park Blvd. and is off the Saw Mill River Parkway and the Major Deegan Expressway. Low-cost on-site parking is available.
Smokey Robinson, born and raised in Detroit, began writing poems in elementary school and founded The Miracles while still in high school. The group was Berry Gordy’s first vocal group, and it was at Robinson’s suggestion that Gordy started the Motown Record dynasty. Their single of Robinson’s “Shop Around” became Motown’s first #1 hit on the R&B singles chart.
In the years following, Robinson continued to pen hits for the group including “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” “Going to a Go-Go,” “More Love,” “Tears of a Clown” (co-written with Stevie Wonder), “I Second That Emotion” and the group’s all-time classic, “The Tracks of My Tears.” As The Miracles dominated the R&B scene throughout the 1960s and early ‘70s, releasing 15 albums in 15 years, Smokey became vice president of Motown Records, serving as in-house producer, talent scout and songwriter.
As the premier songwriter in America, he churned out dozens of hits for Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, and the Temptations, including their hit “My Girl.” His other triumphs included “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “Get Ready,” “You Beat Me to the Punch,” “Don’t Mess with Bill,” “Ain’t That Peculiar” and “My Guy.”
Smokey left the Miracles for a solo career in 1972, releasing another 16 hit albums, and continued to serve as Motown’s vice president, shaping the label’s success with friend and mentor Gordy until it was sold to MCA in 1988. Smokey’s album of romantic ballads, “A Quiet Storm,” spawned the format that would dominate nighttime black radio in the ‘80s.
In the late ‘70s a new audience was introduced to Smokey as “Cruisin’” shot up to #1 on the charts, followed by such ‘80s hits as the #1 “Being with You.” In 1987 he released the smash album “One Heartbeat,” and in 1989, his autobiography, “In My Life,” was published by McGraw-Hill.
In 2004, Smokey released his first Gospel album, “Food for the Spirit,” and launched a line of soul food. Two years later he released “Timeless Love,” an album of his impeccable renditions of standards. A guest judge on “American Idol” in 2007, he performed a medley of his hits with the top six male contestants on the season finale.
During the course of his 50-year career in music, Smokey Robinson has accumulated more than 4,000 songs to his credit and continues to thrill sold-out audiences around the world with his lovely high tenor voice, impeccable timing, and profound sense of lyric. His latest release of new material is 2009’s “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun.”