William “Smokey” Robinson has been named as the next recipient of the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Award. Robinson, who was instrumental in shaping pop music in the 1960s, has won the most prestigious Gershwin award to add to his lists of achievements during his career.
Robinson will receive the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, and he is the eighth recipient of the honor.
David Mao, the acting librarian of Congress, announced on Tuesday that 76-year-old Smokey Robinson is this year’s recipient of the Gershwin Prize. The award, which has been named under the duo of George and Ira Gershwin, was started by Congress to honor songwriters who have made a tremendous contribution to the United States’ music industry.
Mao said in a statement, “His rich melodies are works of art — enduring, meaningful and powerful. And he is a master at crafting lyrics that speak to the heart and soul, expressing ordinary themes in an extraordinary way.”
“It is that quality in his music that makes him one of the greatest poetic songwriters of our time.”
This award is annually presented to an American popular music creator or composer, and the short list of the prior recipients of the previous year’s award include Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, and Stevie Wonder.
Robinson started his musical career at an early age, writing his first lyrics at 5 and singing for his school at 10. Born to African-American parents in the north end of Detroit, he was raised by his sisters and her husband after their mother died of a brain hemorrhage.
He founded the Matadors in 1954 while in high school, and after three years, they added a female singer and became the Miracles. In 1950, they released their first single, “Shop Around,” which became their first million-selling hit.
Smokey then retired from the group in 1972 and continued to work as a solo singer. In 1975, he released his third album, A Quiet Storm, which was highly acclaimed. In 1987, he won a Grammy for the best R&B vocal performance for his single “Just to See Her” for his album One Heartbeat.
Afterward, his collaboration with Motown founder Berry Gordy turned into a musical dynasty of the Motown record label. Robinson served as the label’s vice president for nearly over three decades. He continued his work as a producer and a talent scout along with his songwriting duties.
“I grew up in a musical family, We listened to everything – blues, gospel, jazz.”
During his long and illustrious career of more than 50 years, he has written and performed many songs and helped lead a musical revolution. “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” “I Second That Emotion,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” and “Mickey’s Monkey,” are some of his Motown hits.
“The Tracks of My Tears” was named to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2007 as one of the national sound recordings.
He has also written classic songs like “My Girl,” “Get Ready,” and “The Way You Do the Things You Do.”
Credited with more than 4,000 songs and the release of dozens of Top 40 hits, Smokey Robinson is a living legend and a pioneering figure in the U.S. music history.
“It gives me such joy and gratitude to be included among the past recipients of this most prestigious songwriting award,” Robinson said in a statement.
Smokey Robinson’s illustrious career is filled with many prestigious awards, including Grammy Living Legend Award, Kennedy Center Honors, and the presidential National Medal of Arts Award, just to name a few. He is also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In his career, he wrote for many artists, including Michael Jackson, the Beatles, the Marvelettes, and many others who have looked upon him as an influence.
Congratulations from all over social media have been popping for Smokey Robinson since Tuesday’s announcement. He will receive his Gershwin award in Washington in November.
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