Motown legend Smokey Robinson coming to The Palace
Motown legend Smokey Robinson showed up in western Pennsylvania a little early for his Aug. 11 concert at Greensburg’s Palace Theatre to attend to some business.
He was in the Pittsburgh area on Aug. 2 to officially launch his new line of wine with Lawrenceville-based EngineHouse 25 Wines. He helped to unveil a Smokey Robinson Cabernet ($60) and Smokey Robinson Riesling ($30) that joins vintages named for local sports heroes, including Hines Ward of the Steelers and Pirates legend Roberto Clemente.
“I’m really excited about my wines because it’s a different thing for me. It’s a ‘life surprise’ for me,” Robinson said on his website. “I never thought I’d be involved with something that dealt with alcohol or anything like that. Or that I would find wine that I like. But this one I like.”
The singer-songwriter has other ties to the region. His wife, Frances, is an interior designer who was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. They are former residents of Pine in the North Hills and he has performed in concert at Benedum Center and with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Robinson, who celebrated his 78th birthday in February, is still going strong with his music, keeping alive the Motown sound for a new generation of fans and reliving the songs that baby boomers grew up with.
With more than 4,000 songs to his credit, including hits for other Motown artists such as The Temptations, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway and Marvin Gaye, he continues to play to audiences around the world.
His current tour includes dates through December. His plans for the New Year already include a gig in January along with other former Motown artists on board the 2019 Soul Train Cruise to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“I do concerts because I love it,” Robinson told The Daily Telegraph, a British publication. “It’s my favorite part of my work because I get a chance to be with the people, to see the fans, to be one-on-one with them, to have a good time with them. They’re singing the songs back to me. We’re having a wonderful time.”
He scored some of his biggest record hits as leader of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – including “Shop Around” (1960), “Tracks of My Tears” (1965), “I Second That Emotion” (1967) and “Tears of a Clown” (1970) – before focusing on his solo career.
‘GREATEST LIVING POET’
Today he supports several causes, including the Special Olympics, and he was on hand in Chicago as the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary on July 27.
Robinson also joined other songwriters and performers in Washington, D.C., in May, testifying at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in support of stricter music licensing laws that would set the rates digital music services pay songwriters and producers for songs.
The artist that Bob Dylan once referred to as America’s “greatest living poet” has been honored with many awards, including The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize, Grammy Living Legend Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts Sciences and the National Medal of Arts Award.
He also was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.