Former Motown Records vice-president Smokey Robinson took to Instagram on Tuesday to defend Jennifer Lopez’ Motown tribute at Sunday’s Grammy Awards.
Online commentators objected to her hiring because she is not black and was never signed by the label.
But the 79-year-old front man of famed Motown group The Miracles said ”Kids of all races grew up loving the music of Motown, imitating our acts,’ in a lengthy Instagram post.
At the crux of Smokey’s argument was the fact that the record label’s ethos was always meant to be inclusive.
He began the online rant, ‘Attention, all those of you who protested a wonderful, super talented, world renowned, super star like Jennifer Lopez, showing her love and support for Motown music, here’s some food for thought’.
‘On the very first day of Motown Berry Gordy told the five of us who were present, “I’m gonna start my own record company and we’re gonna make music for everybody and always be sure to make quality music that the world can enjoy.”‘
To those trying ‘to diminish the scope of Motown and narrow it down to just music for Black people’ he said, ‘you’re trying to set us back a hundred years.’
He instead advised critics to ‘be happy that we broke down so many racial barriers’.
Smokey indicated he was pleases ‘that an artist like Jennifer, even after hearing all your negative comments, still loved Motown enough to do the tribute anyway.’