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.”
The 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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“There’s really no art to songwriting. I think it’s a gift. I think that everybody gets a gift, God gives everyone a gift …
“That’s why I’m not one of those songwriters where I have to take myself to an isolated place for two months so I can write. It just happens to me out of the clear blue. I’m on the plane or somewhere and an idea comes. It can be a line, a thought or a melody. There’s no sequence.”
—Smokey Robinson (on CBS This Morning)
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“How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.
The legendary songwriting team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff are set to receive the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at the 45th Annual Induction and Awards ceremony in New York City on June 12.
The Mercer Award is the highest honour bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame. It is reserved for a songwriter or songwriting team whose body of work is of such high quality and impact that it upholds the standard set by Johnny Mercer himself.
Philadelphia-based Gamble and Huff will join past Mercer Award recipients Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Paul Anka, Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, Hal David and Burt Bacharach, and Cy Coleman.
“It will be our pleasure to welcome Gamble and Huff into the circle of superwriters who have received the Johnny Mercer Award,” said Jimmy Webb, the Songwriters Hall of Fame chairman and a fellow recipient of the Mercer award. “They have met the standard with a series of indelible melodies and lyrics, and an enviable string of number one records and gold and platinum discs.”
Over the past 50 years, Gamble and Huff have written over 3,500 songs together, including 50 pop and R&B chart hit singles. They have won five Grammy Awards and 86 BMI Pop and R&B Awards.
In 1971, the duo set up their own record label, Philadelphia International Records, and went on to create ‘The Sound of Philadelphia’ with classic hits such as The Supremes’ ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’, ‘Only The Strong Survive’ by Jerry Butler, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’, Billy Paul’s ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’, and ‘Love Train’ by The O’Jays.
Gamble and Huff were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1995.
This video charts the history of Gamble & Huff and The Sound of Philadelphia:
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“How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a paperback, or as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.
Songwriters Hall of Fame chairman Jimmy Webb has announced that Elton John and Bernie Taupin will be the 2013 recipients of the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at this year’s awards ceremony in New York on June 13.
John and Taupin have been one of the most prolific and successful songwriting partnerships of all time. Their award-winning relationship has spanned more than four decades and they have collaborated on more than 30 albums since they first met in 1967.
“Some catalogues are more significant than others not only because of their pertinence to the times in which they were written, but because their sheer mass is overpowering,” said Jimmy Webb. “It’s just not that easy to write 40 top 10 records. It’s kind of like swimming the English Channel with your hands tied behind your back.”
He added: “Elton’s readily identifiable melodic piano style has proven to be a perfect accompaniment to Bernie’s razor sharp lyrics about relationships and living on the edge of life both in good and bad times.”
The Johnny Mercer Award is the highest honour bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame. It is exclusively reserved for songwriters or songwriting teams who have already been inducted in a prior year, and whose body of work is of such high quality and impact that it upholds the gold standard set by the legendary Johnny Mercer.
Past Johnny Mercer Award recipients have included songwriting giants: Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Phil Collins, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Paul Anka, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Billy Joel, Jimmy Webb, Hal David, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Paul Simon, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Stephen Sondheim, Cy Coleman, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.
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