Smokey Robinson’s voice needs no accompaniment but on his latest release, he decided to invite a few friends along anyway. Smokey and Friends is out right now and the first single “Being With You” features Mary J. Blige.
“Randy Jackson [of ‘American Idol’ fame] who is the producer of the record, he chose the artists. I’m so glad I had a chance to work with him because Randy’s my brother. And he called the people who participated on this record and asked them what was their favorite Smokey Robinson song. It didn’t have to a song that I had sung, just one that I had written. And the songs that you hear them singing on are the ones that they picked.”
The Motown legend even included the Roots on the record, who play on several cuts. John Legend, Steven Tyler, James Taylor, Ledisi and more are on the record singing with Robinson. Though Robinson had his share of his own hits both solo and with the Miracles, he says that one of his most enduring is one he wrote for another group.
“At this point, internationally, my signature song would have to be ‘My Girl.’ I play in a lot of countries where the basic language is not English,” Robinson says. “I play ‘My Girl’ in my live concerts and as soon as people hear [the intro] they start singing.”
One of the Tom Joyner Show’s most enduring memories of Robinson was his appearance at the Tom Joyner Cruise…in red leather. Turns out, it was also Robinson’s first time ever on a cruise.
“I had never been on a cruise before and I thought it was going to be like a ballroom. They had a full-fledged theater on the ship. That was amazing to me,” says Robinson.