This year looks back upon the annual An Evening With… celebrity series, this time featuring record executive and Motown label founder Berry Gordy as interviewed by Gwen Ifill at The Art Institute of Chicago. 2011 was a year of improved fortunes for the organization as events are hosted around the country celebrating barrier-breaking African Americans, with a spotlight on women in the sciences, math, engineering, technology, and the military. Founder and President Julieanna Richardson was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree from Howard University, and The HistoryMakers expanded its online presence to the public by launching a new website that gives access to over 350 full-length interviews from the digital archive. The third annual Back To School With The HistoryMakers was another resounding success with educational events held at nearly 300 schools around the country. By December, 199 HistoryMakers were interviewed in cities across the nation. In addition to behind-the-scenes footage of the PBS-TV taping and other events that year, the program includes pre-recorded performances by Smokey Robinson, in tribute to Berry Gordy and those interviewed in 2012. Immediately following will be a screening of An Evening With Berry Gordy.
Once pronounced by Bob Dylan as America’s greatest living poet, acclaimed singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson’s career spans over four decades of hits. He has received numerous awards including the Grammy Living Legend Award, NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, an honorary doctorate from Howard University, and the National Medal of Arts Award from President George W. Bush. He has also been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Robinson founded The Miracles while still in high school. The group was Berry Gordy’s first vocal group, and it was at Robinson’s suggestion that Gordy started the Motown Record dynasty. Their single of Robinson’s “Shop Around” became Motown’s first #1 hit on the R&B singles chart. In the years following, Robinson continued to pen hits for the group including “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” “Going to a Go-Go,” “More Love,” “Tears of a Clown” (co-written with Stevie Wonder), and “I Second That Emotion.”
Robinson then turned to a solo career where he continued his tradition of hit making with “Just to See Her,” “Quiet Storm,” “Cruisin’,” and “Being with You,” among others. Robinson continues to thrill sold out audiences around the world with his high tenor voice, impeccable timing, and profound sense of lyric. Never resting on his laurels, he remains a beloved icon in our musical heritage.
Taped: Saturday, November 17, 2012
An Evening With Berry Gordy was a must see, live-to-tape one-on-one interview with Berry Gordy conducted by award-winning journalist Gwen Ifill. Taped in November 2012 before a live audience at The Art Institute of Chicago, Ifill and Gordy began their journey in Detroit where Gordy founded Motown Records in 1959 and grew the company into the most successful African American-owned enterprise in the United States. Ifill’s interview led the audience through Gordy’s celebrated life as entrepreneur, songwriter, record producer, movie director and producer.
The program included performances by Valerie Simpson, KEM, and Janelle Monae as well as Brandon Dixon and Valisia Lekae from Motown: The Musical. Gordy’s son, Stefan Gordy, known to the music world as Redfoo, one-half of the hip-hop musical group, LMFAO, was in attendance.