Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
June 29, 2015

Bree Took a Stand. Will You?

Bree Newsome ASSOCIATED PRESS

Newsome's action was a reminder to abandon the comfort and relative safety of insipid discontent. If we want more, we have to demand more.

The Quality Of Health Care You Receive Likely Depends On Your Skin Color

Mixed Race Baby
Stockbyte via Getty Images

Death Row Exonoree Released Last Year Dies Of Lung Cancer

Glenn Ford
Chris Granger / Nola.com / Landov

John Lewis, Civil Rights Veteran, Asks Black Clergy To 'Fix' Voting Rights Act

John Lewis
Kris Connor via Getty Images

At Least 5 Black Churches Have Been Destroyed By Fire In The Past Week

Charlotte Fire Dept
Twitter/Charlotte Fire Dept

Supreme Court Will Re-Hear Texas Affirmative Action Case

Supreme Court Building Us
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

NAACP Leader Compares Woman Who Removed Confederate Flag To Rosa Parks

Bree Newsome Rosa Parks
YouTube

4 Reasons Why Putting A Woman On The $10 Bill Isn't As Great As It Seems

Jessica
Hulu

Nicki Minaj Wins Big At 2015 BET Awards

Nicki Minaj
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

The Incredible Ways Art Is Helping Charleston Heal

Charleston Art
Adam Chandler

Joe Biden Makes Surprise Visit To Charleston Church

Joe Biden
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

Investigation Underway Of Another Fire At A Black Church In The South

Firefighter Hose
ASSOCIATED PRESS

NASCAR Chief: Ban Confederate Flag

Nascar Confederate Flag
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Why Charleston's Church Massacre Is An Act Of Terrorism

Shooting
Richard Ellis via Getty Images
HuffPost Reports

Woman Removes Confederate Flag In Front Of South Carolina Statehouse

South Carolina Confederate
Win McNamee via Getty Images

Under The Rainbow -- Black, Queer And Not In The Mood For Pride

Joseph Coco
Courtesy of Joseph Coco

Episcopal Church Elects Its First Black Presiding Bishop

Episcopal Church Salt Lake City
ASSOCIATED PRESS

How Sheryl Lee Ralph Plans To Make More People Aware Of HIV

Sheryl Lee Ralph National Hiv Testing Day
Sean Black

Meet The 63rd Black Woman In American History With A Physics Ph.D.

Chanda Prescodweinstein
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Where You Live Helps Determine Whether You'll Survive HIV/AIDS

Hiv Test
RODGER BOSCH via Getty Images

The Dominican Republic Wants To Deport 60,000 Stateless Kids

Stateless
Roque Planas/HuffPost

This Is The Moment Obama Found Out About The Supreme Court's Health Care Ruling

Ocare
White House

'No Cheap Grace For White America' In Aftermath Of Charleston Shooting

Dylann Roof
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Thousands Mourn Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Pinckney
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Please Just Stop, Clarence Thomas

Clarence Thomas
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Watch Obama Lead A Powerful Rendition Of 'Amazing Grace'

Barack Obama
Pool via Getty Images

Obama Gives Impassioned Eulogy At Clementa Pinckney's Funeral

Barack Obama
MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

Ecstasy And Despair On This Historic Day

Scotuscharleston
Getty Images
Global Black Voices
 

How Dads In Malawi Are Reducing HIV Rates Among Babies

Unicef
UNICEF/Malawi/2014/Schermbrucker

Clarence Thomas Thinks Slavery Kept Everyone's Dignity Intact

Clarence Thomas
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Community Around The World Sends Words Of Comfort To Charleston #Honorthe9

Charleston Shooting
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Bill Could Cut Crime, Reduce Recidivism And Save Money

Prison Reform
Shutterstock / albund

Washington Cathedral Dean On Confederate Flags: ‘It Is Time To Take Those Windows Out'

Confederate
National Cathedral

White Supremacists More Dangerous Than Foreign Terrorists: Study

Dylann Roof
ASSOCIATED PRESS

White Americans Support Protests, But Not So Much When Protesters Are Black

Protest Baltimore
Andrew Burton via Getty Images

Obama To Deliver Eulogy For Slain South Carolina Pastor Clementa Pinckney

Barack Obama
SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

Maryland Police Fatally Shoot Unarmed Black Man, Thought He Had A Weapon

Baltimore County Police
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Supreme Court Keeps Key Housing Discrimination Protections Intact

Supreme Court Washington Dc
MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

This Project Will Help Millions Of African Americans Find Their Ancestors

Family Tree
Deborah Pendell

Americans Just Changed Their Mind About What The Confederate Flag Represents

Confederate Flag
JIM WATSON via Getty Images

Clarence Thomas Cites Mostly Black NBA In Argument To Overturn Anti-Discrimination Law

Clarence Thomas
ASSOCIATED PRESS

FOLLOW HUFFPOST

    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    3. View all RSS feeds

'Dope' Star Tony Revolori Is Your New Favorite Latino Nerd

Tony Revolori
Larry Busacca via Getty Images

14-Year-Old Mo'ne Davis Is Taking Over the Sports World

Mone Davis
Brian Garfinkel via Getty Images

13 Women On The Politics Of Paying On The First Date

Wallet
diawka

Definitive Proof Haters Should Not Mess With Zendaya (Again)

Zendaya Bet Awards
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Kanye West Covered 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' And Nothing Else Really Matters

Kanye
BBC

Kobe Bryant Forgives Rape Tweet By Lakers Draft Pick

Kobe Bryant
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rapper DMX Arrested In NYC Over Unpaid Child Support

Dmx
Scott Legato via Getty Images

2015 Class Of Oscar Voters Adds Diversity

Oscar Voters
Getty

Dyana Williams: Who Is She And Why Is She 'The Godmother Of Black Music Month'?

Dyana Williams Black Music Month
Whitney Thomas

Two NBA Draftees Learn The Hard Way That Their Tweets Are Public

Twitter
Twitter

Warren Sapp Charged With 3 Counts Of Domestic Abuse

Warren Sapp
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Lupe Fiasco Explains Why The Concept Of White Supremacy Is False

Lupe Fiasco
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Taye Diggs Is A Glittering, Gorgeous Hedwig In First-Look Photo

Taye Diggs
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Michael Jackson, King Of Pop, Wanted To Be An Actor

This Program Is Empowering Young Latinas To Follow Their Dreams

Studentsx2
Christy Havranek/Huffington Post

Nick Gordon Sued For Allegedly Abusing & Stealing From Bobbi Kristina Brown

Nick Gordon Sued
Shareif Ziyadat via Getty Images

Nas Shares Passionate Instagram Post About Racial Inequality

Nas
Greg Allen/Invision/AP

Bobbi Kristina Brown Now In Hospice Care

Bobbi Kristina Brown
Tiffany Rose via Getty Images

Fashion Retailer Faces Allegations Of Racial Bias

Zara Store
PHILIPPE HUGUEN via Getty Images

The 11 Realest Solange Knowles Quotes

Solange Birthday
.

LeBron James Emerges From 2-Month Social Media Blackout

Lebron James
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Solange's 10 Best Outfits, Ranked

Solange
Getty Images

Rapper Rick Ross Arrested On Kidnapping, Assault Charges

Rick Ross
Prince Williams via Getty Images

Global African Artists Explore The Meaning Of Disguise In The 21st Century

Dud

50 Cent Explains Why He Deleted His Posts Making Fun Of Diddy's Arrest

50 Cent
HuffPost Live

Jaden Smith Explains Why He Wore A Batman Costume To Kimye's Wedding

Jaden Smith
Instagram

Taraji P. Henson Lands Another Major Magazine Cover

Taraji P Henson W Cover
Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott/W

Here's Stephen Curry Being Cute Back When He Was Around Riley's Age

Instagram
Instagram

Pentatonix Journeys Across The Evolution Of Michael Jackson With Some Sweet Melodies

Michael Jackson
YouTube

Maya Rudolph Does The Rachel Dolezal Impression You've Been Waiting For

Seth
NBC

Lauryn Hill Wows At Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World Music Festival

Lauryn Hill
Rahel Gebreyes

Jon Stewart Slams Fox News Over Charleston Coverage

Jon Stewart
Comedy Central

White Girl Tries To Sell Drugs To Cops, Proves White Privilege Is A Thing

White Privilege
Jessie Kahnweiler

Diddy Reportedly Arrested For Allegedly Assaulting UCLA Football Coach

P Diddy
Venturelli via Getty Images

What Happens When A Black Man And A White Woman Speak For Each Other

Button Poetry
YouTube.com

Hear Janet Jackson's First New Song In Seven Years

Janet Jackson
Tony Barson via Getty Images

Tweet

The 'Quiet Storm' singer recently spoke with BlackVoices.com about his latest projects 'Time Flies When You're Having Fun' and 'Now and Then' (which includes old and new songs), his Motown Years, coping with the loss of famous friends, and why the Apollo Theater is near and dear to his heart.

Congrats on your NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Album for one of your latest releases, 'Now and Then.'

Smokey Robinson: I'm very excited about that. I have two new CDs out. One is called 'Time Flies When You're Having Fun' and the other one is called 'Now and Then.' 'Now and Then' is made up of six songs from 'Time Flies' and six of my vintage songs that I recorded at some of my live concerts last year -- like 'Ooh Baby Baby,' 'Tears of a Clown' and 'Tracks of My Tears.'

You've written more than 1,000 songs. Are there any songs that you've written that are extremely special to you?

SR: They're like my children. I give them all the same effort. Some of them are just more accepted than others (laughs). When I enter the studio, the first thing I want to start with is the song. When I sit down to write a song, I'm trying to write a song that, if I had written it 50 years before, it would've meant something. And today it's going to mean something -- and 50 years from now it's going to mean something. I can't tell you what my favorite song is. I can tell you what my favorite album is.

My favorite album of all time is 'What's Going On' by Marvin Gaye. Marvin Gaye was my brother. I miss Marvin so much. I would go to his house when he was writing 'What's Going On,' and he would tell me, "Smoke, God is writing this album, man." He said, "I'm just sitting here at the piano. I'm just a catalyst for God, because God is writing this." And when you listen to the album, it's prophecy. It's more poignant today than when it first came out.

The Motown years were a special time. I can't think of any other record label in history that has produced or served as a platform not only for some of the greatest songs in music, but also the greatest artists. From start to finish, Motown had the formula for producing hits. Do you think the music industry will ever see anything close to it again?

SR: Motown, as far as I'm concerned, is a once-in-a-lifetime musical event. There had been nothing like Motown prior to Motown. I doubt seriously that there will ever be another Motown. Berry Gordy is my best friend, and we talk all the time. We [recently] talked about the fact that on the very first day of Motown, there were five people there, and he sat us down and said, "We are not going to make just black music. We are going to make music for the world. Music that the world can enjoy and everybody can relate to." And that's what we set out to do. Motown grew into something beyond any of our wildest imaginations.

What has it been like working with consummate artists such as Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Rick James?

SR: It's like if you made gumbo and every ingredient that you put in there you loved. Well, see that's the way it was for me. Those guys are my brothers, and they're still my brothers, even those who are gone. In my heart, they're my brothers.

Motown was unique. We did family stuff together. We did everything together. The original Hitsville building where we recorded, it was not only a place that you worked. Everybody hung there. There is a Motown family that still exists. Those of us who are alive are still in that family. And we still have that same relationship. Some of us don't see each other for months or years at a time, but when we see each other, it's like we just saw each other yesterday.

Berry has this saying, "Motown people cannot NOT love each other." Because we do. Under any circumstance we love each other. We're always there for each other. It's just an amazing thing. It's indescribable to be with those guys. It's like being with my brothers.

Your tribute to Michael at his memorial in 2009 was touching.

SR: I've had three deaths in my life and now a fourth one with Teena Marie. Those deaths were sudden impacts –- Marvin Gaye; Ron White, who I grew up with and who was in the Miracles with me; Michael Jackson; and now Teena. Those sudden-impact deaths are a tough bullet to bite.

Michael was my little brother. I regret the fact that I didn't get the chance to spend time with him in his later years like I used to. Fame has different levels. Michael got to the absolute optimum of fame. He never really had a normal life. When Michael was a little boy, he was the man. And when he was the man, he was a kid because he missed his childhood. He got to the point where he couldn't do anything without being mobbed. I really felt bad that I didn't get a chance to spend some type of time with him to normalize his life and let him know, "Hey, man, you're a person. First and foremost, you're a human being and you have people who love you just because you're you, and not because you're Michael Jackson." I think he needed that.


When the film 'Dreamgirls' came out in 2006, there was a great deal of speculation that the story was based on Motown.

SR: The original play was about three girls from Chicago. It had nothing to do with a record company. Jennifer Holliday, who is a wonderful friend of mine, was the lead in that. She was absolutely awesome, and it was a great play. Then, the guys who did the movie turned it around and tried to make it a pseudo Motown and tried to make my best friend, Berry, seem like he was a gangster. So, I highly protested that. The guys who wrote 'Dreamgirls' probably knew nothing about Motown. I just don't appreciate anybody trying to paint that image of Motown. But they apologized, and I accepted their apology. And there it is.

The Museum of the City of New York recently opened the exhibit 'Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment.' What are some of your fondest Apollo memories?

SR: I love the Apollo; the Apollo is tradition. The Apollo is one of my favorite places in life. I grew up at the Apollo Theater. It's near and dear to my heart.



Tagged as: Apollo, Detroit, Dreamgirls, harlem, marvin gaye, MarvinGaye, MichaelJackson, Motown, MotownRecords, music, new york, NewYork, Rick James, RickJames, SmokeyRobinson, Teena Marie, TeenaMarie, theater
Email This

Comments: (24)

Add a comment

Page 1 of 3
More on Black Voices

Follow Us

Most Commented Articles

Daily Drama

The Best Clips From TV's Hottest Shows


More Daily Drama >>

Bossip

feed

The Urban Daily

feed
Around the Web