Entertainment & Arts

Smokey Robinson to receive Gershwin music honour

Smokey Robinson Image copyright AP
Image caption Smokey Robinson created some of Motown's most enduring classics such as The Tracks Of My Tears which he sang with the Miracles

Motown legend Smokey Robinson is this year's recipient of the prestigious US Gershwin Prize for popular music.

The lifetime achievement award is handed out by the Library of Congress to honour songwriters who entertain, inform and inspire.

Robinson, 76, has writing credits on more than 4,000 tracks and, as lead singer of the Miracles, had hits such as The Tracks Of My Tears.

The singer said the honour gave him "great joy and gratitude".

He is the eighth person to receive the Gershwin Prize, which is given in memory of the US duo George and Ira Gershwin, who composed and wrote the lyrics of many classic stage and film songs including I Got Rhythm and The Man I Love.

David Mao, the acting librarian of Congress, said: "As a singer, songwriter, producer and record executive, Smokey Robinson is a musical legend.

"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."

Robinson has written and sung some of US music history's best-loved songs, starting with his first hit with the Miracles, 1961's Shop Around, the first Motown track to sell one million copies.

He has also written well-known hits for other performers including My Girl and The Way You Do the Things You Do for the Temptations and My Guy for Mary Wells.

He collaborated closely with Motown founder Berry Gordy and worked as a producer and talent scout in addition to songwriting. He also went on to be the label's vice-president for nearly three decades.

Robinson joins a group of music stars that includes Willie Nelson, Billy Joel, Carole King, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon, who previously collected the honour.

He will receive the prize at a ceremony in Washington DC in November.

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