The Los Angeles Convention Center was remodeled into Hitsville U.S.A. on Friday evening (Feb. 3) when the thirty second annual MusiCares Persons of the Year profit gala honored Motown Records icons Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson. The two-and-a-half tribute elicited a raft of standing ovations because of dynamic performances from a lineup of Grammy winners and present/previous nominees that included Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, John Legend, Dionne Warwick, Sheryl Crow, Chloe x Halle and Jimmie Allen, amongst others.
Musical director Greg Phillinganes and the home band formally kicked off the proceedings with rousing variations of the Contours’ “Do You Love Me” and “Going to a Go-Go” by Robinson’s group the Miracles. Then the night was off and working as the Temptations took over the stage with their signature dance routines and a rousing medley of a number of classics: “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “I Can’t Get Next to You” and “My Girl.” Their efficiency drew the primary of the night’s a number of standing ovations — in addition to boisterous singalongs — from a star-studded viewers that included Elton John, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul, Tom Hanks, Gayle King, Nile Rodgers and Richie Sambora, amongst others.
Also lighting up the stage and viewers recollections have been performances by former Motown acts the Four Tops (“Baby I Need Your Loving,” “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Reach Out [I’ll Be There],” “I Can’t Help Myself [Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch]”), the Isley Brothers (“This Old Heart of Mine”), Richie and Wonder. Before segueing into fan fave “Easy,” Richie famous, “I don’t know which means more … To be part of the Motown family or having Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson as my very dear friends.”
Wonder soloed on an early Miracles music co-produced by Robinson and Gordy, “I’ll Try Something New.” Then he teamed with the band for a reggae-vibed tackle a music he co-wrote with Robinson, “The Tears of a Clown.” Recalling his early years at Motown, Wonder mentioned, “All of my appreciation, respect and love go to you, Berry Gordy — who thought I couldn’t sing. Let’s keep it real … he said, you can play but you really can’t sing.” As the viewers laughed, Wonder added that he as soon as instructed Robinson, “I can sing better than you.” Ending on a critical notice, he instructed each Gordy and Robinson, “Thank you, I love you. Thank you, I love you.”
Upping the tribute’s magic quotient even additional was the varied group of artists chosen to place their very own spins on the sound of Motown. Crow mesmerized the viewers along with her vocals on the Jackson 5 hit “I Want You Back,” whereas Legend and a trio of feminine singers sweetly harmonized their method by one other Jackson 5 gem “I’ll Be There.” Legend talked about being the son of Motown-loving mother and father. “When my dad wanted to flirt with my mother, he’d start singing.” At this level, Legend mimicked his dad singing ‘I’ve acquired sunshine on a cloudy day” — the primary line to “My Girl.”
Songwriter/producer Valerie Simpson partnered with Allen on “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” one of many many hits that she and late husband Nickolas Ashford crafted at Motown. Mumford & Sons turned in one other crowd-pleaser with their slowed down, bluesy interpretation of the Barrett Strong gem and Motown’s first hit “Money (That’s What I Want).” Warwick wowed with “My Guy.” Additional performances included Trombone Shorty (“Shotgun”), Michael McDonald (“Lonely Teardrops”), Rita Wilson and Sebastian Yatra (“It Takes Two”), Brandi Carlile and the Hanseroth Twins (a riveting “The Tracks of My Tears”), PJ Morton and Lalah Hathaway (“Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing”) and Chloe x Halle (“Baby Love”).
A trio of performances by three present greatest new artist nominees rounded out the efficiency slate: DOMi & JD Beck (“All I Do Is Think of You”), Molly Tuttle (“The One Who Really Loves You” and Samara Joy (“Ain’t That Peculiar”). Joy’s jazzy, smoky model of the Marvin Gaye basic, coupled along with her velvety vocals, sparked one other rollicking ovation led by John who was the primary to face up. Also co-signing the performances all through the night have been Gordy and Robinson themselves because the digicam caught them singing alongside, smiling broadly and elevating their arms at varied intervals.
The most emotional second arrived when Robinson walked onstage to pay tribute to his longtime mentor and greatest pal Gordy. “In my life I’ve been blessed enough to get a few awards,” he started. “But this one is really the most special to me because I’m getting this award with my very best friend in the world. I’m standing here tonight because when I first met this man, it was the beginning of my dream come true. I wanted to be a singer, to be in show business, write songs and make music. I never thought it would be possible for me from where I grew up. But he took me under his wing … I love you man; you are so precious.”
After Robinson carried out “Did You Know,” a ballad he wrote about Gordy and their friendship, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. introduced the Persons of the Year award to the pair — the primary duo to be so honored. The spry, 93-old Gordy — who might be seen dancing to “Get Ready” as all of the performers returned for the finale, mentioned merely, “I’m happy to be here with my best friend.”
As the charity arm of The Recording Academy, MusiCares’ annual profit gala salutes musicians for his or her creative achievements in music and dedication to philanthropy. Proceeds from the gala, which included a silent public sale of varied music memorabilia and different objects, will present important assist as MusiCares continues to offer music professionals with well being and human companies throughout a spectrum of wants.