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Volume 35
Winter / Spring 2019

Leisure

Motown Legend Smokey Robinson Reflects on the Birth of Motown Records

Smokey Robinson
Smokey Robinson
Photo: promotional

In an exclusive interview, legendary singer and prolific songwriter Smokey Robinson shares behindthescenes stories about how he, founder Barry Gordy, and a cast of Detroit teenagers changed the world of music with Motown records.

The iconic record label – responsible for launching the careers of superstars Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and Aretha Franklin – turns 60 this year. Smokey Robinson wrote songs, traveled, and shared countless moments with each of them during his time at Motown. In fact, he met Franklin long before their music careers took off; the two were childhood friends and remained close personally and professionally for over 70 years. In a recent edition of AARP Magazine, Robinson reveals his reactions and emotions when he learned of the passing of the Queen of Soul.

Being at the forefront of a worldwide phenomenon at the most important music label of the century was beyond Robinson's wildest dreams. He remembers the first day of Motown when founder Berry Gordy sat everyone down and said, "I'm going to start my own record company. We are not just going to make black music, we're going to make music for the world." And according to Robinson, "That was our plan, and we did it."

Also in the December/January ATM: The Story of Motown ATM's commemorative feature details the hidden history of Motown records. Read about the young Detroit entrepreneur who created music that broke down racial barriers, electrified the American songbook.