One-on-one with legendary singer Smokey Robinson ahead of Summerfest performance

The legendary singer and songwriter will perform at Summerfest on Sat., July 8.
2023 MusiCares Person of the Year - Arrivals
Posted at 11:32 AM, Jul 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-07 12:32:18-04

MILWAUKEE — Smokey Robinson has lived a storied life. He grew up just a few houses down the block from the great Aretha Franklin in Detroit. In 1955, he performed with his first group The Five Chimes, which would later be renamed the Matadors and finally, the Miracles...the rest as they say is musical history.

Reporter Andrea Williams asked, "When you look back on all the years of all the things that you've accomplished, what stands out the most?"

He replied, "Today, right now. This very moment, because it's been a long time. When you're still in a position or should I say valuable enough to be in show business which is a blessing."

The iconic performer, who is now 83, met the founder of Motown Records in 1957 when he was only 17. Together they discovered some of the biggest names in history. Robinson was not only a performer, but also a chief songwriter, producer, and served as Vice-President of the label.

Williams said, "There are songs that you have everything to do with from the Temptations to Mary Wells to the late Marvin Gaye, the list goes on and on. So I can't imagine what it feels like for you to be in this day and age and be able to look back on all that you and the great Berry Gordy created together."

Robinson replied, "Like I said, honey, it's a blessing. I can't explain how blessed I feel."

"You're headed to Milwaukee again, you were just here last year and his time around you're coming to the world's largest music festival known as Summerfest. What have you heard about Summerfest?" asked Williams.

"I've heard a lot of great things about it, and we're really looking forward to coming and playing there, I love Milwaukee," said Robinson.

"And speaking have Gary Foote whose a native of Milwaukee right there in your band (bass guitarist). Yeah he's wonderful, he's a great musician and a great person, you know he keeps us alive. Gary's the life of the party you know, so I'm really, really, really happy to have him," said Robinson.

He couldn't narrow it down to just one song, but he did say how music shaped his life from a very young age.

"You know my mom played John Lee Hooker and B.B. King and Little Walter and all those blues singers and people like that and then sometimes you'd be playing the Vocaleers, The Clara Ward Singers, and the Five Blind Boys and all the gospel groups. You know I had two older sisters, my youngest sister was 14 when I was born, so they played Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie and Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, and Sarah Vaughn," said Robinson.

As they inspired him, Smokey continues to inspire others.

"I tell young people all the time who are aspiring to be in show business, you know you got to be prepared to get knocked down, you got to be prepared to hear a whole lot of no's, a whole lot of we can't use you, and a whole lot of I'm sorry. And if you can withstand all of those and keep stepping, if you want it bad enough, then go for it!"