Smokey Robinson helps bring a ‘Miracle in Motor City’ to life

Motown music legend plays himself in new Lifetime movie

Smokey Robinson of “Miracle in Motor City” Sunday on Lifetime

Q: As you play yourself in “Miracle in Motor City,” sought to perform in a church’s holiday pageant, is it particularly satisfying to put the Motown music brand into a cable-network movie?

A:  It’s fantastic. I’m very happy that I was a part of this, because it’s a wonderful movie. I can’t wait to see what the reaction to it is.

Q: Do you think the music generated by Motown Records — where you were an executive after having numerous hits as the lead singer of the Miracles — always will have a place in pop culture?

A: I really, really hope so. I believe it will always be here. As far as I’m concerned, Motown was a once-in-a-lifetime musical event. There had never been anything like it before that, and there hasn’t been anything like it since. With the legacy we left, kids who weren’t even born yet will be aware of Motown.

Q: How was it to be pivotal in the behind-the-scenes dealings of Motown as well as a performer out front?

A: People ask me about that all the time, and I tell them that I was with Berry (Gordy) from the very beginning. When he started Motown, there were only five people there, and we did everything.

We made the records, we took the records to radio stations … just everything, before we started to get promotion people, and that was after we got some hits. So, when I was officially announced as vice president of Motown, it wasn’t anything new to me. It was the same thing I’d been doing all along.

Q: Why do you think Motown’s music has endured?

A: I give Berry Gordy the credit for that. We were all young people, and he was teaching us to do the very best that we could. We had a creative meeting every Monday morning to critique everyone’s music, and we got it to the point where we thought it was good enough to go out on the Motown label. With all the effort that we put in, I’m very, very proud of the effect that we’ve had on the music world.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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