Photo: Dwight McCann

Smokey Robinson, the “poet laureate of soul”, is set to be the next recipient of the prestigious U.S. Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Acting Librarian of Congress David Mao has announced that Smokey Robinson will receive the prize in Washington, D.C., in November.

The Gershwin Prize honors a living musical artist’s lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations.

The seven previous recipients are: Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel and Willie Nelson.

“As a singer, songwriter, producer and record executive, Smokey Robinson is a musical legend,” said Acting Librarian of Congress David Mao. “His rich melodies are works of art—enduring, meaningful and powerful. 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.

“His velvet falsetto and incomparable mastery of lyrical verse have created a tapestry of hits that have transcended generations and become a mainstay in American pop music.”

Smokey Robinson commented: “It gives me such joy and gratitude to be included among the past recipients of this most prestigious songwriting award.”

TRACKS OF MY TEARSThe 76-year-old Grammy Award winner has released dozens of Top 40 hits and added more than 4,000 songs to his legacy songbook. His music reads like a playlist of Motown’s greatest hits—”Mickey’s Monkey” (1963), “Going to a Go-Go” (1966), “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” (1963), “Ooo Baby Baby” (1965), “The Tracks of My Tears” (1965), “More Love” (1967), “I Second That Emotion” (1967), “Baby, Baby Don’t Cry” (1969), “The Tears of a Clown” (co-written with Stevie Wonder, 1970), “Cruisin’” (1979), “Being With You” (1981), “Just to See Her” and “One Heartbeat” (1987).

“The Tracks of My Tears” was named to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2007 as one of the nation’s culturally, historically or aesthetically significant sound recordings.

Robinson was the creative force behind many Motown classics. Hit songs that he wrote for other Motown artists include: “My Girl,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “Get Ready,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “Ain’t That Peculiar,” “My Guy,” “You Beat Me to the Punch” and “Don’t Mess with Bill”. He has crafted lyrics for Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, The Marvelettes, The Temptations and many others. His music also influenced The Beatles who recorded his song “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” in 1963.

The Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is only awarded to living musical artists whose contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin.

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