Last July, the Library of Congress announced that Smokey Robinson was the next recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Robinson received the prize in November 2016, but the broadcast will air tonight for the first time on PBS. Check your local listings to watch Smokey Robinson: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The show begins at 9 p.m. ET and runs until 11 p.m. ET. You can watch Smokey Robinson: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song streaming live online at PBS Anywhere through, mobile apps such as Roku, Kindle Fire and Apple TV as well as through cable and satellite provider apps. Check the PBS website following the broadcast for on-demand videos. The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honors living, recording artists whose interpretation of a song’s genre has crossed cultural boundaries, impacted lives and shaped generations.
Smokey Robinson — singer and songwriter responsible for legendary hits, considered one of the greatest songwriters of all time. pic.twitter.com/NynW3tTnJ9— ???????? dya. (@notoriousdya) February 1, 2017
Smokey Robinson is the eighth recipient of the Gershwin Prize for popular song. Here is a list of past recipients in order they were received. Note, the songwriting team of Hal David and Burt Bacharach were the fourth recipients of the Gershwin Prize.
- Paul Simon
- Stevie Wonder
- Paul McCartney
- Hal David and Burt Bacharach
- Carole King
- Billy Joel
- Willie Nelson
- Smokey Robinson
Librarian of Congress David Mao released a statement regarding Smokey Robinson and the Gershwin Prize.
“As a singer, songwriter, producer and record executive, Smokey Robinson is a musical legend,” said Acting Librarian of Congress David S. Mao.
“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.”
Here is a program description as released by PBS.
“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, 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.”
Smokey Robinson: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is part of the PBS Arts series. Following tonight’s broadcast, the show will air on the American Forces Network to American service men and women and civilians at U.S. Department of Defense. PBS also announced that the honoring of Smokey Robinson is airing in February as part of the network’s programming for Black History month. Here is a listing of PBS shows and specials airing in February for Black History month.
- Birth of a Movement: Feb. 6
- Smokey Robinson: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song: Feb. 10
- Independent Lens: “Accidental Courtesy”: Feb. 13
- The Talk: Race in America: Feb. 20
- American Masters: “Maya Angelou and Still I Rise”: Feb. 21
- Africa’s Greatest Civilizations: Feb. 27-March 1
Those interested in watching more PBS content, specials and documentaries celebrating Black History month may want to visit PBS’s site Black Culture Connection (BCC)
As tonight’s show was filmed live in November from Washington, D.C., there is a Library of Congress blog post that contains full details of Smokey Robinson’s two-day celebration as the Gershwin Prize recipient. Smokey Robinson was accompanied by Berry Gordy on a tour of the Library of Congress that included the Thomas Jefferson Building and viewing the Ira and George Gershwin exhibit Here to Stay: The Legacy of George and Ira Gershwin. Smokey Robinson, Berry Gordy and LOC librarian Carla Hayden sang around the Gershwin piano. You may see a video from that moment below. Smokey Robinson was quoted talking about the significance of the award, his relationship with Berry Gordy and what it meant to be honored and recognized in the same category of songwriters as Ira and George Gershwin in the LOC blog post.
“The Gershwins wrote music when the song was king,” the Grammy Award-winner told Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.
“For me to even be mentioned in the same breath with the Gershwins as a songwriter is just incredible.” Robinson tearfully recalled how Gordy mentored him and helped him achieve his dream of becoming a singer and songwriter.”
[Featured Image by Cable Risdon Photography/PBS (used with permission)]