Photo: Mario Escobar
Berry Gordy And Smokey Robinson Are The 2023 MusiCares Persons Of The Year: Why The Motown Legends Deserve The Honor
Berry Gordy and his first Motown signee, Smokey Robinson, are MusiCares Persons Of The Year for a very good reason: They're trailblazers whose legacies will forever stand the test of time.
It's virtually impossible to imagine a world without Motown Records.
None of their sweet soul music blasting from car windows and storefronts. No Supremes or Temptations or Stevie Wonder providing the rhythms for TV and film. No Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On," or Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street," or Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' "Tracks of My Tears." What kind of world would that be?
For Motown's existence, boom and continued success, one indomitable, canny visionary can take the lion's share of credit: Berry Gordy, who founded the Detroit label back in 1959. Equally as influential to Motown's legacy is Smokey Robinson — Gordy's creative and business partner, and best friend of more than 65 years.
Both loom so large in music, and their stories are so intertwined, that picking just one as the MusiCares Person Of The Year — an honor previously bestowed on Joni Mitchell, Quincy Jones, Aerosmith, and other luminaries — would be a half-measure. For the first time, MusiCares has expanded the honor to include two Persons Of The Year of equal and parallel esteem.
Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson fulfill the Person Of The Year dictum to a tee: Together and apart, their creative accomplishments and philanthropic work have few equivalents. And prior to the 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards®, which occur Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, MusiCares will throw a gala to remember, to celebrate the two men while raising funds toward the music charity’s programs and services that assist the music community all year long.
"I am grateful to be included in MusiCares' remarkable history of music icons. The work they do is so critical to the well-being of our music community, and I look forward to a most exciting evening," Gordy said in a statement. Added Robinson: "I am honored that they have chosen me and my best friend and Motown founder Berry Gordy to share this beautiful honor and celebrate with you all together."
Berry Gordy. Photo: Mario Escobar
Motown has influenced all sorts of music and inspired generations of artists throughout the decades, and Robinson's unforgettable recordings, like "Shop Around," "I Second That Emotion" and "Mickey's Monkey," are forever beloved. Not only via Robinson's pipes, but those who interpreted material he wrote or co-wrote, like Marvin Gaye ("I'll Be Doggone" and "Ain't That Peculiar"), the Temptations ("My Girl"), Mary Wells ("The One Who Really Loves You"), the Marvelettes ("You're My Remedy"), and the Jackson 5 ("Who's Loving You").
Not to mention the Beatles, who were deeply influenced by Robinson and covered "You Really Got a Hold On Me" on 1963's With the Beatles. (George Harrison included a tribute to Robinson, "Pure Smokey," on his 1975 solo album Extra Texture (Read All About It); Paul McCartney once remembered, "Smokey Robinson was like God in our eyes.")
Smokey Robinson. Photo: Donaldson Collection/Getty Images
If Gordy and Robinson represent the divine to some, Genesis 1:1 was their meeting in the summer of 1957. Gordy — a high-school drop-out, ex-boxer and Korean War veteran who quit his job at Ford to pursue songwriting — discovered Robinson by way of his vocal harmony group, the Matadors, which featured Robinson's then-wife, Claudette.
An enamored Gordy took the group under his wing, renaming them the Miracles and highlighting Robinson as the leader; he produced their first single, "Got a Job," an answer song to the Silhouettes' hit single, "Get a Job." Eventually, on a drive from Detroit to Flint, Michigan, Robinson convinced Gordy to seriously ponder starting his own label.
In 1959, Gordy did just that. He founded Tamla Records with an $800 loan from his family, along with a publishing arm, Jobette, and the rest is history. Robinson not only became Gordy's first writer and debut Motown signee, but, in 1962, he rose to become Motown's vice president. In 1972, Robinson left the Miracles to pursue a solo career, but their brotherhood remained ironclad.
Motown hasn't just gifted the world with an ocean of spectacular music; as one of the most successful, Black-owned businesses in American history, it lit a beacon for Black leadership and innovation forevermore. And it wouldn't be the same without Robinson's vision and artistry, and how it synergized with Gordy's to change the face of music and American culture.
And that's why Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson aren't just Persons Of The Year. They're trailblazers whose legacies have — and forever will — stand the test of time.
This article appears in the 2023 GRAMMYs program book, which will be released soon.
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Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
10 Must-See Moments From The 2023 GRAMMYs: Beyoncé Makes History, Hip-Hop Receives An Epic Tribute, Bad Bunny Brings The Puerto Rican Heat
The 2023 GRAMMYs marked a triumphant — and historic — return to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena, where modern superstars and living legends came together for a memorable celebration of music in all its forms.
A wide, uplifting tapestry of sounds was saluted and rewarded during the 2023 GRAMMYs. The telecast's pluralistic approach delivered a view of the present as a time of musical splendor while also celebrating its past — from hip-hop's legacy, to Latin's cultural influence, to pop's boundary-pushing stars.
Between history-making wins from Beyoncé and Kim Petras, a major victory by a young jazz sensation, and celebratory performances honoring greats, there was plenty to be reveled both on and off the GRAMMY stage. Below, take a look at the highlights of another memorable edition of Music's Biggest Night.
Bad Bunny Sticks Close To His Caribbean Roots
After global star Bad Bunny celebrated a year of extraordinary achievements — both artistic and commercial — the Puerto Rican tastemaker used his GRAMMYs performance to celebrate his Caribbean roots.
Benito could have picked an obvious selection, like the crowd-pleasing single "Tití Me Preguntó." Instead, he focused on the soulful roots of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic by performing electrifying renditions of "El Apagón" and "Después de la Playa."
Bad Bunny has demonstrated time and again a gift for reinventing Latin genres. And yet, "Después de la Playa" kept its insanely syncopated beats and feverish brass section faithful to traditional merengue. The late Dominican icon Johnny Ventura would have been proud.
The Fans Receive A Much-Deserved Spotlight
The awards, record deals and critical raves are indispensable elements of stardom. But in the end, it is the contributions of average fans that sustain a career. With that in mind, the GRAMMYs organized a roundtable with 10 studious fans, each making a case for their favorite performer to win the Album Of The Year award.
To their delight — and genuine surprise — host Trevor Noah invited them on stage for the coveted award, asking one of the most devoted fans in Harry Styles' pack to announce his win. The two shared a joyous embrace before she handed him his golden gramophone, serving as a touching closing reminder that the fans mean everything.
The Magic Of Motown Becomes Transformational
A brisk tribute to Motown co-founder Berry Gordy and musical genius Smokey Robinson — three songs, augmented by an inspired Stevie Wonder — proved that words will never be enough to capture the label's contribution to pop culture. A factory of beautiful dreams, Motown gave us a string of timeless hits that combine aural poetry with propulsive rhythms, honeyed hooks and virtuoso arrangements. Seeing the 82 year-old Robinson perform the 1967 classic "The Tears of a Clown" was one of the evening's most dazzling moments. (The performance also featured Wonder's rendition of the Temptations' "The Way You Do The Things You Do" and a duet with country singer Chris Stapleton on Wonder's own "Higher Ground.")
Honoring The Past Shows The Future Is Bright
2022 was a year of artistic triumph, but also of tremendous loss. The In Memoriam segment of the telecast was sobering, also honoring performers who are lesser known in the United States but definitely worthy of a mention — such as Brazil's Erasmo Carlos and Argentina's Marciano Cantero.
It began with a stately rendition of "Coal Miner's Daughter" by Kacey Musgraves in tribute to country legend Loretta Lynn, then continued with Quavo and Maverick City Music honoring Migos' Takeoff, ending with an homage to Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie from Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and Mick Fleetwood. Many artists were lost during the past 12 months, but their music lives on.
A Queen Breaks Records — To A Disco Beat
Beyoncé was allegedly stuck in traffic when she won her third GRAMMY of the evening — Best R&B Song for the joyful single "CUFF IT" — which, as Trevor Noah noted, put her one win away from making GRAMMY history. Luckily, by the time her name was announced for that record-setting feat, she was in attendance — and very much in shock.
Her seventh studio LP, RENAISSANCE, won Best Dance/Electronic Album. The win put her GRAMMY total at 32, marking the most wins of all time. Visibly emotional, Beyoncé first took a deep breath and said "I'm trying to just receive this night"; before heading off stage, she made sure to honor the queer dance pioneers who inspired the album, an exuberant tribute to classic dance format.
Hip-Hop Shines As A National Treasure
2023 marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop — so, naturally, the GRAMMYs put together perhaps the most legendary celebration possible. Featuring the Roots, Run-DMC, Queen Latifah, and many, many more, the nearly 15-minute performance highlighted the genre's influence from past to present.
The parade of legends tracing the history of the genre was breathtaking. From Grandmaster Flash ("The Message") and De La Soul ("Buddy") to Missy Elliott ("Lose Control") and Lil Uzi Vert ("Just Wanna Rock"), the extensive medley gave hip-hop its rightful place of honor as the most compelling musical movement of the past 50 years.
The Art Of Songwriting Stands The Test Of Time
One of the show's most endearing images was the utter shock on Bonnie Raitt's face when she was announced as the winner of the Song Of The Year GRAMMY — perhaps because her competition featured the likes of Beyoncé, Adele and Harry Styles. "This is an unreal moment," she said. "The Academy has given me so much support, and appreciates the art of songwriting as much as I do."
In retrospect, Raitt's win shouldn't surprise anyone who is aware of her superb musicianship — and her 15 GRAMMYs to show for it. A rootsy, vulnerable song, "Just Like That" is the title track of her eighteenth studio album; the song also took home the GRAMMY for Best American Roots Song earlier in the evening.
Lizzo Dedicates Her Grammy Win to Prince (And Beyoncé)
By the time Record Of The Year was announced, the prodigiously gifted Lizzo had already brought the GRAMMY house down with rousing performances of the funky "About Damn Time" and the anthemic "Special." But clearly the best was yet to come, as the former track took home one of the night's biggest honors.
As Lizzo began her speech, she paid homage to Prince, who both served as an idol and a mentor to the star. "When we lost Prince, I decided to dedicate my life to making positive music," she said, going on to explain that while she first felt misunderstood for her relentless positivity, mainstream music has begun to accept it — as evidenced by her win for "About Damn Time."
Before leaving the stage, she made sure to give one more idol a shout-out: Beyoncé. "You changed my life," Lizzo said, reflecting on seeing the "BREAK MY SOUL" singer when she was in 5th grade. "You sang that gospel medley, and the way you made me feel, I was like, 'I wanna make people feel this way with my music.' So thank you so much."
Contrary To Popular Belief, Jazz Proves It's Far From Dead
It only takes one listen to the wondrous voice of young Bronx singer Samara Joy to understand that she follows the same path once walked by Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. Joy's second album, Linger Awhile, includes atmospheric versions of such classic nuggets as "Misty," "'Round Midnight" and "Someone To Watch Over Me."
The rising star was already a winner going into the telecast, as Joy took home the golden gramophone for Best Jazz Vocal Album in the Premiere Ceremony. But when she beat out mainstream hitmakers like Latto, Anitta and Måneskin for the coveted Best New Artist GRAMMY, Joy not only set her place in the jazz firmament — it hinted that the genre may be ripe for a revival.
The Pop Concept Album Lives On
It's not only the stunning beauty of its melodies, and the pristine warmth of the production. Harry's House is a special album partly because of its vaguely conceptual sheen — the pervasive feeling that the 13 songs within are interconnected, an intimate journey into the singer's creative soul.
At the telecast, Styles performed an ethereal reading of his luminous mega-hit "As It Was." His well-deserved win for Album Of The Year confirmed that it's perfectly valid to mix accessible pop with a sophisticated unifying theme — and if you do it really right, you may just win a GRAMMY.
Check out the complete list of winners and nominees at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
Photos courtesy of the Recording Academy
Stevie Wonder Is Bringing A Special Performance With Smokey Robinson & Chris Stapleton To The 2023 GRAMMYs
The 2023 GRAMMYs will feature a special performance by Stevie Wonder, where he will perform three classic tunes, including two duets with fellow Motown legend Smokey Robinson and country star Chris Stapleton.
Stevie Wonder isn't just a 25-time GRAMMY winner; he's one of the most beloved talents in American music. And on Music's Biggest Night, it's the Recording Academy's honor to broadcast a special performance by the titanic singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
At the 2023 GRAMMYs, viewers will behold a broadcast of Wonder singing three classic hits, starting with the Temptations' "The Way You Do the Things You Do," featuring the R&B vocal group WanMore.
Next, Wonder will perform Smokey Robinson's "Tears of a Clown" with Robinson himself — one of MusiCares' two Persons Of The Year for 2023, the other being Motown founder Berry Gordy.
Wonder will finish off this special performance — drawn from the 2023 MusiCares Persons Of The Year Gala — with his hit "Higher Ground," from his classic 1973 album Innervisions.
Joining him will be country singer/songwriter Chris Stapleton — an eight-time GRAMMY winner in his own right, who's nominated this year for Best Country Song for co-writing Willie Nelson's "I'll Love You Till The Day I Die," from 2022's A Beautiful Time.
The 2023 GRAMMYs air Sunday, Feb. 5, from Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena, and it will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET / 5-8:30 p.m. PT. Be sure to log into live.GRAMMY.com for the full experience.
Don't miss what's sure to be a transfixing performance by an American musical giant and two of his fellow greats!
Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy
Read The 2023 GRAMMYs Program Book In Its Entirety: Berry & Smokey, Every General Field Nominee & So Much More
Below, enjoy a digital version of the 2023 GRAMMYs Program Book, which will be distributed at Music's Biggest Night — and don't forget to watch it on CBS and live.grammy.com on Feb. 5 at 4pm PT/7pm ET!
In so many ways, the 2023 GRAMMYs will represent music's past, present, and future.
Not only will the MusiCares Persons Of The Year event honor two giants of Motown — Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson — but the Premiere Ceremony and show proper will be a clear reflection of who's shifting music right now.
(And as far as emerging acts who are nominated for golden gramophones? That's the future right there.)
All three have been captured in the 2023 GRAMMYs Program Book, a lavish text distributed to attendees at the ceremony in just under a week.
Read the 2023 GRAMMYs program book in full.
But don't forget, the book just contains the lead-up to the ceremony — nobody knows what will happen! To be the first to know, watch the 2023 GRAMMYs on CBS and Paramount+ on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Make sure to head to live.GRAMMY.com on GRAMMY night for an all-access pass to experience the 2023 GRAMMYs in full via exclusive interviews and never-before-seen content.
Enjoy the 2023 GRAMMYs Program Book, and we'll see you at Music's Biggest Night!
The Official 2023 GRAMMYs Playlist Is Here: Listen To 115 Songs By Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar & Moreations: See The Complete Nominees List
Rewatch The 2023 GRAMMY Nominations Announcement Here
If you missed the highly anticipated nominations reveal for the 2023 GRAMMYs, never fear — you can rewatch the livestream below.
Yet another historic GRAMMY moment has come and gone — the nominations for the 2023 GRAMMYs are officially here.
Across pop, rap, rock, jazz, classical, and all 91 GRAMMY categories, it was made abundantly clear how vital and game-changing the music community's offerings continue to be.
But what if you missed the 2023 GRAMMY nomination reveal, featuring leading lights in the industry from Smokey Robinson to Dan + Shay to Machine Gun Kelly?
Never fear: You can watch the 2023 GRAMMY nominations ceremony in full below.
Watch Olivia Rodrigo, John Legend and more reveal the nominees for the 2023 GRAMMY Awards. And watch as Dan + Shay and Cyndi Lauper deliver memorable, heartfelt performances to celebrate and reminisce about their own GRAMMY memories.
Be sure to soak up the 2023 GRAMMY nominations for Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist as well.
We'll see you at the 2023 GRAMMYs on Sun. Feb. 5 — live on the CBS Television Network and streaming live and on demand on Paramount+!
The 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.
The eligibility period for the 65th GRAMMY Awards is Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 – Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. All eligible awards entries must be released within this timeframe.
The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.