Smokey Robinson at Gershwin’s Piano

(The following is a guest post by Director of Communications Gayle Osterberg. It was originally published on the Library of Congress Blog.)

This Friday (Feb. 10) PBS stations nationwide (9 pm Eastern – check your local listings) will share with America the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song tribute concert honoring Motown legend Smokey Robinson.

It was a great pleasure to host Smokey, Berry Gordy, family and friends at the Library the day before the concert was taped back in November. Library of Congress staff shared treasures from Motown and African-American music history, like maps from Detroit in the late fifties with handwritten notes by Alan Lomax, historic recordings of Jelly Roll Morton and the original copyright deposit of “I Cry”, a song Smokey co-wrote with Gordy and his first copyright submission.

The highlight of the visit, for me, was to watch Smokey sit down at George Gershwin’s favorite piano – on permanent display in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building – and talk with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

To say Dr. Hayden is a Smokey fan is an understatement, and she had a series of questions for the honoree, who tells her about Gershwin’s influence on his childhood, when he decided singing was his passion and what music he’s listening to now. He also opens up in an emotional moment about his relationship with Berry Gordy and Gordy’s impact on his life.

We’ve been looking forward to sharing this touching conversation with you ahead of Friday’s broadcast.

I hope you enjoy it!

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