The two-day celebration of Smokey Robinson’s 50-year career—and his selection as the 2016 recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song—began in the nation’s capital with a touching trip down the keyboard of George Gershwin’s piano and ended with a rollicking concert of his greatest hits.
During his visit, Robinson sat down at the Gershwin piano, housed in the Library’s ongoing exhibit, “Here to Stay: The Legacy of George and Ira Gershwin,” and talked about his work and the Gershwin legacy. “The Gershwins wrote music when the song was king,” the Grammy Award-winner told Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “For me to even be mentioned in the same breath with the Gershwins as a songwriter is just incredible.” Robinson tearfully recalled how Gordy mentored him and helped him achieve his dream of becoming a singer and songwriter.
Then, actor Samuel L. Jackson hosted an all-star tribute concert at DAR Constitution Hall featuring Aloe Blacc, Gallant, Berry Gordy, CeeLo Green, JoJo, Ledisi, Tegan Marie, Kip Moore, Corinne Bailey Rae, Esperanza Spalding, the Tenors and BeBe Winans. The honoree also performed some of his favorite tunes. The concert will air on PBS stations nationwide at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 10 (check local listings).
During the evening’s event, Robinson will be presented with the prize by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, U. S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Richard J. Durbin, U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, U.S. House of Representatives Chairman of the Committee on House Administration Candice S. Miller and U.S. House of Representatives Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress Gregg Harper.