Jennifer Lopez doesn’t have to worry about the people hating on her Motown tribute performance at the Grammys – because she has a Motown legend in her corner. Smokey Robinson – was part of the performance – says the people insisting there should have been a black or Motown artist in J-Lo’s place are way off base.
In a lengthy Instagram statement, 78-year-old Robinson, who with The Miracles was one of the very first acts signed to Motown, says in part, “Kids of all races, worldwide, grew up loving the music of Motown… So now you’re gonna try to diminish the scope of Motown and narrow it down to just music for black people and call yourself defending the image of Motown. Well you’re trying to set us back a hundred years.”
After defending Lopez, who he calls a “wonderful, super-talented, world-renowned super star,” Smokey says, “Stop hating. Motown united people, not divided them. So don’t call yourself loving Motown if you’re a hater… J Lo was great and we at Motown love her.”
He added, “I guess since you feel that way about an artist of another ethnicity doing a tribute to Motown, you must have hated Tina Marie, Rare Earth and some of our other white artists.”
“So don’t call yourself loving Motown if you’re a hater and spreading the same bigotry that you so strongly oppose coming at you from others. J Lo was great and we at Motown love her,” he said. “The beauty of Motown is that we are a family of made up of Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian women and men. We had a very diverse employee roster. So I hope knowing these few facts helps you get your perspective together and think about the hate you’re spreading.”
Robinson expanded on his comments in an interview with TMZ founder Harvey Levin, declaring in part:
“Because man, Motown is music for everybody. Motown is universal. We broke down racial barriers with music. …kids all over the world…have grown up patterning themselves or imitating Diana Ross and Michael Jackson and The Temptations and all the Motown artists. All ethnicities, you know what I mean? So to confine Motown to just being something that only black people can represent or be a part of is just a stupid philosophy to me.”
Robinson had already defended Lopez’s appearance ahead of Sunday night’s Grammys, but said he was spurred to write the new statement because “so many people are talking negatively about it. It’s ridiculous.”
There will be a full Motown tribute show, titled Motown 60: A GRAMMY Celebration, which will air April 21st on CBS. Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer and Smokey Robinson, the tribute will feature Boyz II Men, Chloe X Halle, Ciara, Lamont Dozier, Fantasia, Brian & Eddie Holland, Thelma Houston, Tori Kelly, John Legend, Little Big Town, NE-YO, Pentatonix, Martha Reeves, Diana Ross, Valerie Simpson, Mickey Stevenson, Meghan Trainor, and Stevie Wonder.