Interview with Smokey Robinson
His Own Miracle
As one of the definers of tender, balladic R&B soul, Smokey Robinson has a place in the annals of music history.
Whether with The Miracles and their hefty set of chart-topping Motown hits from the 60's and 70's, or whether considering the huge contributon that Robinson has made as a solo artist, songwriter and producer since then, there is no denying the man's vast talent and influence on the genre.
With the entry of Smokey Robinson's first ever Gospel album, Food For The Spirit, some might be tempted to think that this spiritual focus is something new for the Detroit native. But for those who have seriously followed Robinson over the years, the lyrical content of this new project wonít be so much of a surprise.
You might recall Robinsonís participation in the 1994 Motown Comes Home album, where he was one of many (others were Strate Vocalz, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Brent Jones & The TP Mobb) who contributed material. Robinson himself sang his song, "I'll Keep My Light In My Window".
From Robinsonís own spoken testimony over the years (which he frequently presents at conferences and various events), he makes it clear that the Light he is referring to is Jesus Christ.
Gospelflava.com asked Smokey Robinson if he could elaborate a little on the circumstances of receiving his salvation. He was more than eager to answer.
"Well, I am certainly not ashamed at all to tell of my relationship with Jesus Christ. Iíve known God since I was a child, growing up in the ghetto section of Detroit. My mom was what I call a ďGod ladyĒ, she brought me up to know God. She passed away when I was 10, and I was raised by my older sister. So I always knew that Jesus was the Son of God."
"Then in 1977, I made a personal decision, I decided for myself to accept Christ as my Saviour."
Food For The Spirit
Food For The Spirit is a nine-song festival that delivers everything you would hope for and expect in an album from this veteran soul crooner and master songwriter......|
See full album review.
Smokey Robinson has, in fact, been writing Gospel songs for years.
"Iíve always written them. I had been stockpiling Gospel songs for other artists, and had planned to submit them to Gospel artists. But the Lord impressed on me that these were songs that I needed to sing myself. I needed to let it really be known where I stand. And Iím ready to do that."
With songs such as "The Road To Damascus", "I Praise & Worship You, Father" and "Jesus Told Me To Love You", Robinson stamps his signature sound onto statements of his faith.
"This album is really all about making people conscious of their spiritual selves", Robinson declares. "Some songs have to do with my personal relationship with the Lord, others are about certain situations that Iíve gone through."
Weighing heavily on his heart is the fact that people today seem to be so focused on material things, and often neglect the spiritual. ďYou wonít be taking any of those [material] things with you when you dieĒ, he said. ďBut the spiritual riches, these last foreverĒ.
In creating the album, Robinson stuck with what has always worked for him stellar songwriting and his innate ability to connect his lyrics to groovesome and accessible soul music.
"I really enjoy all the material on this album", he says. But Robinson admits that one song in particular is very close to his heart.
ďLet Your Light Shine On MeĒ is special. The song says that I always want the Lordís light to illuminate all that I do. Coming from the showbiz world, Iím especially aware of the spotlight that is brought on artists that are in the public eye."
Robinson then elaborates with an unforgettable, humor-driven, case in point.
"For example, you could see someone start peeing on the street, and you would just say, ĎHey look, thereís a guy peeing on the street!'
"But if I, as an artist in the public spotlight, if I even as much as spit on the street, there would be attention drawn to that, and it would be something for everyone to talk about. So, thatís a sort of exaggerated example of my point, the concept Iím trying to express."
"I donít just want that sort of spotlight on me, I want the Lordís, I want Jesusí light to always shine on me, to illuminate everything that I do."
In parlaying his point to music, Robinson has wisely stuck with his strong points.
"I really haven't strayed too far, musically, from my roots. What you'll find on Food For The Spirit isn't too different from what Iíve done over the years on other projects. In fact, I wouldnít really call this a Gospel album, I call it more an inspirational album.
In calling it 'inspirational', Robinson clarified that he is talking strictly about the music, for the lyrics deliver the Gospel message clearly and accurately. Let there be no doubt, this is Gospel music, Smokey Robinson style!!
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— interview by Stan North —
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