*Dubbed the ‘First Lady of Motown’ by Motown founder Berry Gordy for the very fact that she was the actual first female to be signed to the infant label; Claudette Robinson, original member of The Miracles and former wife of Smokey Robinson opens up about how it all began.
She also tells of The Beatles expressing how much they were influenced by The Miracles. She talks about Marvin Gaye on what would have been his 75th birthday April 2nd.
During the interview one ‘chatter’ asked, “How do you think the lyrics [today] are so different from The Miracles [compared] to now?” Claudette, still beautiful and looking like royalty answered, “I think that has a lot to do with the person who’s writing them…lyrics come from the heart and it’s what you yourself are feeling…I think there was a lot of love and emotion that people had ‘back in the day’ [laughs]…not saying that [writers today] don’t have the same feeling and emotion, but they’re not expressing it in the same way…we were definitely about love and caring and sharing and respect. I’d like to see more of that.”
Claudette is hoping her book will be published in 2015. Here’s the ActorsE Chat interview:
Following is a story I wrote when Claudette appeared on the cover of Jam Source Magazine in 2012:
Claudette Robinson: A Quiet Storm! – by Larry Buford
Hurricanes and a tropical storm have bore her name – Claudette – and it bespeaks the impact she had behind the scenes at Motown Records for decades. You see, by the time The Supremes broke out with their blockbuster “Where Did Our Love Go” in 1964, she could have already been considered in those days a seasoned veteran of the music industry. Claudette Robinson – then a member of The Miracles, and wife of lead singer Smokey – was the voice that added that special spice to hit songs like “Shop Around,” “Who’s Lovin’ You,” “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me,” “What’s So Good About Goodbye,” “A Love She Can Count On,” “Happy Landing,” and many others.
If not for the PBS broadcast network where she has performed with other members of the group in recent years, Claudette would remain in relative obscurity because she stopped touring with the group before Blacks began to get more frequent exposure on major TV in the early sixties. She and Smokey decided she should come off the road in order to begin a family, but she continued to record with the group on all the songs – hits like “Tracks Of My Tears,” Ooo Baby, Baby,” and “I Second That Emotion” – up until Smokey went solo in 1972.
Dubbed “The 1st Lady of Motown” by Motown founder Berry Gordy, one can only imagine what the Robinson household must have been like in Detroit as Claudette’s hit-songwriting husband churned out the hits (in addition to The Miracles) for various artists like Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, and The Temptations.
Although she stops short of discussing their divorce after being married 27 years, Claudette says of Smokey, “I never saw him like that [a heartthrob]…Smokey was very romantic…when he would come home from the road he gave me a real kiss like he meant it. He always brought me gifts – Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day, Birthday, Anniversary, you name it. Smokey was as romantic as his lyrics were – what he wrote, he lived it at home [thus the lyrics to “I’ll Try Something New”]. He wrote me letters, cards…most times he would make a card – sometimes with lots of words and sometimes short and sweet. He would also draw pictures…most people don’t know he is a great artist in that regard too.”
Recently Claudette was invited to the White House along with other Motown legends including Smokey, Martha Reeves, Stevie Wonder, and founder Berry Gordy for a Motown at the White House tribute. She says, “It was my first time at the White House, and it was a wonderful event!” In April 2012 Claudette and the other original members of The Miracles were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Smokey had already been inducted as a solo artist back in the ‘80’s).
Today, as a youthful looking grandmother of three, Claudette remains very active in charity events and fundraisers, and is a board member of various organizations. She has a fabulous website at ClaudetteRobinson.Com, and – once her forthcoming book is released – is very excited about going on a book tour to meet and greet the fans who have been so supportive of The Miracles for over five decades.