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Get Your #BootsOn


June 24, 2015

Legendary singer/songwriter Smokey Robinson joined the esteemed list of more than 400 celebrities getting their “boots on” to support the 1.4 million men and women serving in our armed forces today. In his official “boot shoot,” Robinson donned a pair of Boot Campaign signature combat boots and flashed his iconic smile for the camera. As he prepares to be honored for his prolific music career at this year’s BET Awards, Robinson is sharing his appreciation for the sacrifices service members make to keep himself and all of us free to achieve our dreams.

“I’m wearing my boots today for all our troops around the world, and especially those who have given their lives and their limbs,” Robinson said. “I feel really good about wearing my boots to give thanks to those who are protecting our nation. I’m honored.”

Boot Campaign Chief Operating Officer Joey Jones (USMC Ret.) had this to say about Robinson joining the Boot Campaign movement: “Our country has very few living legends in culture, as well as music, such as Smokey. Having him take hours of his day to come to us and put these boots on to show his personal support for our military and veteran communities was really an amazing show of patriotism and embodies what we are attempting to do at Boot Campaign.”

The BET network will present the legendary artist with a lifetime achievement award at the 15th Annual BET Awards airing June 28 at 8 p.m. P/C. With a music career spanning 50 years, Robinson is one of the most celebrated artists in music history, credited with largely influencing the development of Motown Records and penning more than 4,000 songs. His list of professional accolades is long, including Kennedy Center Honors, the Grammy Living Legend Award, NARAS Achievement Award, the National Medal of Arts Award 2002 presented by President George W. Bush and has been inducted into both the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. Even with the distinctions and decades of adoration from fans around the world, Robinson expressed his own admiration for the men and women of our armed forces who pave the way for our pursuit of happiness.

With Robinson’s support, the Boot Campaign mission to promote patriotism, raise awareness of veterans’ issues and provide assistance for military families of all generations will reach an even greater audience and help even more deserving heroes. The music mogul’s bold display of gratitude for service members is deeply appreciated by both Boot Campaign and the military community, and is just another reason he’s one of America’s favorite icons.

Concert review: Smokey is silky smooth at Heinz Hall

Not every artist on the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Thursday Night Icons Series quite measures up as icon, but there’s no doubt about the man who kicked it off.

Smokey Robinson, one of the brilliant talents who built Motown, launched the series Thursday in a nearly filled Heinz Hall. At 75, he’s just a bit older than the ’60s rockers (Beatles, Stones, Woodstockers) and still exuding a fun, youthful vibe.

After an orchestral opening with music from “Star Wars” and “Superman,” Mr. Robinson’s nine-piece band assembled along with a pair of female dancers in spandex, an odd sight in front of the PSO. Offsetting everyone else in white, the legend arrived in an emerald sharkskin jacket and started with one of his more contemporary songs, 1981’s smooth R&B hit “Being With You.”

With “I Second That Emotion,” he tapped into Motown greatness and got to work on a set filled with classics he performed with his Miracles or worked up for one of the label’s other sensations.

His voice has always been a soft, silky thing — a quiet storm, if you will. With a band and orchestra behind him, he had a lot to rise above, especially on the groove numbers.

As for the silky part, just one word: wow. Voices don’t get any smoother than his luscious vocal on “Ooo Baby Baby,” one that put goosebumps on every arm and had his fans jumping to their feet. He joked, “Well, I guess that’s it. … I should have played that first.”

“Right now, we are going to boogie,” he said, stripping off his jacket, showing his dance moves and declaring, “I could have been a Temp!”

He proved it with a medley of “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “Get Ready” and “My Girl,” spontaneously engaging “the Heinz Hall choir” — the crowd — to make the room rock. One of the faces in the crowd was Franco Harris, whom he saluted down front.

They took the tempo up a notch with a collision of sound on “Tears of a Clown” and a swinging “Fly Me to the Moon.” The orchestra left — “they had to pee,” he joked — allowing him and his to take it down for the bedroom jazz of “That Place.”

For the finale, he reached back for another piece of Motown gold, “The Tracks of My Tears,” going from spare and pretty to big and brassy, and then eased into the long late ’70s slow jam “Cruisin’,” with fans joining him on stage.

With timeless songs, stunning vocals and playful showmanship, it was a performance worthy of his spectacular legacy and a concert that set the bar high for the “icons” to come: Johnny Mathis (July 16), Diana Krall (July 23) and Randy Newman (July 30).

Scott Mervis:; 412-263-2576.

Set list

Being With You

I Second That Emotion

You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me

Quiet Storm

Ooo Baby Baby

The Way You Do the Things You Do

Get Ready

My Girl

Tears of a Clown

Fly Me to the Moon

That Place

Just to See Her

The Tracks of My Tears


When Motown the Musical – which grossed over $115 million during its two-year run on Broadway, beginning in March, 2013 — wraps its six-week run at Hollywood’s Pantages

Theatre on June 7, the national tour will then motor its away across N. America through early next year on a 37-date run. Then it’s on to London and a final, victorious lap back home on Broadway.

The musical tells the story of Berry Gordy’s founding of his iconic label as well as the tale of its musical legacy through a series of flashbacks, set at the label’s 25th anniversary in 1983.

Joined by fellow Motown icon Smokey Robinson during a recent chat about the musical’s own growing legacy, founder Berry Gordy says simply, “We tried to take the truth and make it entertaining.”

What does the success of this musical say about enduring legacy of Motown?

Smokey Robinson: We love it.

Berry Gordy: Well, we show how important Billboard was to us to get five out of the top 10, we show that. That was such a highlight of our success having one company with five records.

‘Motown the Musical’ Feels the Love Back in the Motor City

What was the initial goal with the project, and how did Motown’s personality fit into that?

Gordy: We just believe in simple things. The truth is a hit — if it’s entertaining. Otherwise it’s a documentary or something like that. So we tried to take the truth and make it entertaining. And most of it is just real life, common-sense stuff. When I needed money, I wrote a song called “Money.” It’s the beauty of the songs. Smokey of course, he kind of did the same thing, only his were more romantic. He’s responsible for probably more babies in that time than any single person professionally and personally.

Robinson: Berry is such a perfectionist and your question is, ‘Did I think it would be successful?’ I knew it was going to be successful. First of all, he had the ammunition that had been built up all those years with the music, the legacy and how Motown affected the world. But I knew if he was going to do it, no one would ever see it unless it was going to be really good. He’s still making changes; he’s never done.

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Gordy: Charles would make all of the cast , he would set up times anywhere from two to ten minutes, whatever it took, and the cast would ask me anything. They’d come and sit down with me, they’d tape it. They were not taught to copy Marvin or Diana but to understand and /be/ them. Not act like them. And he made sure of that. That’s why it’s so authentic and feels so natural, because they are those characters.

Even Diana — it’s unbelievable, I’m seeing myself on stage there, I’m seeing my movements on stage, my anger. Because she was angry with me a lot. When she saw the show, ‘Oh I was ridiculous wasn’t I… and over here you were ridiculous and you showed it.’ It’s funny.

Berry Gordy, Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Aerosmith, More Honored at Songwriters Hall of Fame Event

Will there be a film adaptation?

Gordy: Oh yeah, it’s always in the works — been in the works a long time with different people talking to us about it. But we’re just focusing on this right now. The movie will come when it comes.

What do you think about the modern Motown?

Gordy: I’m very happy about it. I met with [Motown president Ethiopia Habtemariam] and she’s very bright, strong and very interested in taking the brand and joining it with what’s happening and bringing up a whole new generation of people. The company is very much behind her. So we do meet, we do talk. I just love her. She’s a young person coming up with some great ideas and very smart. I love smart.

Gail Mitchell –

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