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July 16, 2019

Smokey Robinson says critics of Jennifer Lopez’s Grammys Motown tribute are ‘trying to set us back a hundred years’

February 13, 2019
Jennifer Lopez and Smokey Robinson perform together at Sunday’s Grammy Awards. (Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for The Recording A)

Smokey Robinson is fired up about the naysayers of Jennifer Lopez’s Motown tribute at the Grammys.

Robinson, took part in the performance alongside J. Lo, defended the pop star amid complaints from some viewers who believe the award show should have gone with black artists to perform the tribute instead.


“On the very first day of Motown Berry Gordy told the five of us who were present, ‘I’m gonna start my own record company and we’re gonna make music for everybody and always be sure to make quality music that the world can enjoy,’” Robinson wrote in an Instagram post Tuesday. “And through the Grace of God and hard work and determination, we accomplished that. Kids of all races, worldwide, grew up loving the music of Motown, imitating our acts.”

Sunday’s tribute performance commemorated the 60th anniversary of Motown, the record label immortalized by a slew of iconic acts including Diana Ross, The Jackson 5, The Temptations and Marvin Gaye.

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God bless you… Smokey Robinson… #MotownDidItFirst

A post shared by Smokey Robinson (@smokeyrobinson) on

Many questioned why Lopez was the selection to honor Motown, including author Roxane Gay, who asked on Twitter, “How does J Lo, pop dance queen get tapped to lead a Motown tribute when black women exist?”

Robinson on Tuesday praised Motown from breaking racial barriers.

“So now you’re gonna try to diminish the scope of Motown and narrow it down to just music for Black people and you call yourself defending the image of Motown,” he wrote. “Well you’re trying to set us back a hundred years.”

Following the performance Sunday, Lopez defended her involvement in it as well.

“The thing about music is that it inspires all. Any type of music can inspire any type of artist,” Lopez told Entertainment Tonight. “You can’t tell people what to love. You can’t tell people what they can and can’t do, what they should sing or not sing. You gotta do what’s in your heart.”

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