Smokey Robinson named 2016 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honoree

Singer, songwriter, producer and record executive Smokey Robinson has been named the 2016 recipient of the Library of Congress' Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
(Chris Pizzello/Associated Press)

Smokey Robinson has been named the Library of Congress’ 2016 recipient for the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

“His rich melodies are works of art — enduring, meaningful and powerful,” acting Librarian of Congress David S. Mao said in a statement. “And he is a master at crafting lyrics that speak to the heart and soul, expressing ordinary themes in an extraordinary way. It is that quality in his music that makes him one of the greatest poetic songwriters of our time.”

Robinson will be feted at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in November. He joins the roster of previous Gershwin Prize recipients that includes Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel and Willie Nelson.


In addition to his contributions as singer and songwriter with the Miracles and as a solo act, Robinson helped Motown Records under Berry Gordy establish the label as a musical powerhouse.

He gave the company its first million-selling hit with “Shop Around” in 1960, and later also served as as a producer and talent scout, contributing hit songs for Motown acts including the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, the Marvelettes and others.

The Library of Congress established the Gershwin Prize in 2007 to recognize “living musical artists whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin, by promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations.”


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