Motown icons Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy were honored on star-studded fashion Friday at the MusiCares Person of the Year Gala, with a tribute lineup that includes Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Chloe and Halle Bailey, Sheryl Crow, Mumford & Sons and The Temptations.
Robinson and Motown Records founder Gordy became the first duo to receive the honor, which is given to musicians for their artistic achievement in the music industry and dedication to philanthropy. Proceeds from the gala will support MusiCares, a leading music charity providing health and human services to music professionals.
Taking place in downtown Los Angeles, just steps from where the Grammy Awards will begin Sunday, the gala began with a silent auction before kicking off a concert in tribute to the author. Robinson and Gordy’s production lasted two hours, beginning with an ensemble from The Temptations that included “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.” Crow followed with a performance of Jackson 5’s hit “I Want You Back” in front of a crowd that included Elton John and Tom Hanks.
“Perhaps this will be said many times tonight but Motown is the soundtrack to our lives and that is thanks to the vision and creativity of Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson,” Legend said before the performance. I’ll Be There.” “I grew up in a home that appreciates Motown, loves Motown and I wouldn’t know music without Motown,” he continued before thanking the two icons.
During the night, Valerie Simpson and Jimmie Allen sang “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Dionne Warwick performed “My Guy,” Mumford & Sons covered “Money (That’s What I Want),” Michael McDonald sang “Lonely Teardrops.” ,” Trombone Shorty takes on “Shotgun,” Rita Wilson and Sebastián Yatra duet on “It Takes Two,” and best new artist nominees Samara Joy, Molly Tuttle and Domi and JD Beck perform a medley. segment. Carlile also performed “The Tracks of My Tears,” followed by the Isley Brothers singing “This Old Heart of Mine” and the Four Tops medley of “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Reach Out.” (I’ll Be There),” and “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch).”
Richie then took to the stage and wondered, “How the hell did I join the Motown family? How the hell am I supposed to get a catalog and be sitting here in front of my wonderful mentors?” The star said of her college days, “not realizing that it was her destiny to be educated by two of the greatest people in the music business. Of course, that entrepreneur is Berry Gordy, and my mentor as a writer, who I want to be, is Smokey Robinson.”
“Tonight I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know if I’m more excited to be part of the Motown family or to have Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson as my best friends,” Richie continued. “You guys are the world to me and I will be playing one of the songs that Berry Gordy made me famous,” before releasing “Easy.”
Chloe x Halle followed up with a performance of “Baby Love,” before Wonder took to the stage, saying “it’s an honor to be here because not because you two are here, but we’re realizing, I would must not be here.”
Wonder joked, “All my appreciation, respect, love for you Berry who thought I couldn’t sing. Let’s be honest, you said, ‘You can play the harmonica, you can’t really sing’,” adding that it was Robinson who said he could sing. “Smokey, I want to thank you. Without you and your friend — a member of The Miracles, the late Ronnie White — I wouldn’t be here. I could never repay you, just telling you for the rest of my life, ‘Thank you, I love you, thank you, I love you.'” Wonder then performed the whole thing. Try Something New” and “The Tears of a Clown”. ” before Robinson picked up the mic.
“In my life I have been lucky enough to receive a few awards, but this one is really, really, really probably the most special for me because I will be receiving this one tonight. with my best friend in the world,” Robinson told the crowd. “Thanks to him, not just me, you saw a lot of people here tonight who could do what they do for him. I stand here tonight because the first time I met this man, it was the beginning of my dream come true,” recalls how Gordy sheltered him and gave him creative advice during their meeting. Firstly.
“That day the seed was sown for the best friendship in history,” Robinson continued. “I love you, man, you are so gracious. I’m very, very, very proud to call you my best friend, it’s one of the proudest things in my life.” He then went on to sing “Did You Know,” a song he wrote about Gordy and their relationship.
For his part, Gordy – who at the age of 93 beams and kisses all night – had only a few words as he stepped onto the stage to receive the honor: “I’m so happy to be here with my best friend, I mean , Damned!”