On March 2, 2012, legendary singer/song writer Smokey Robinson was featured as a guest at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. He attended a master class and rehearsed with Duke students prior to a benefit concert he was giving for Ellington School at the Kennedy Center. The purpose of the master class was to reach out to students and let them know that they can achieve their goals as he did, and to give back what he was once given. Robinson stated, “The love of music got me where I am now”.
Smokey Robinson is from Detroit and was raised by his sister after his mother’s sudden death. In spite of his friends being gangsters, Smokey reached his dreams. Smokey conquered the negativity by becoming the songwriter, singer, and producer that he is today. Robinson has been singing all his life. He was involved in many bands in high school. Not only that, he was involved in basketball and football. When asked by one of the Ellington students what he thought about rap music, he stated that “Rap is street music”.
Generally Robinson spoke about the negativity in music and television today and how it influences youth. Robinson stated, “There should be at least two positive TV shows on TV”. On the other hand Robinson stated he wants to be called an American-American, although life started in Africa. Robinson said he has never been to Africa and simply wants to be called Black.
When the students of Duke Ellington saw Smokey Robinson for the first time they gave him a big applause. Then, the students performed one of Robinsons hit song’s “Don’t Mess With Bill”. They were excited.
Smokey Robinson’s inspirational speech during the master class focused on living the dream. “Where you’re from, ethnicity, or your socio-economic status is no longer the excuse to not pursue your dreams, it’s who you know. Today we are in a world where anything is possible”. Photo by Aeiral James.
Nekaiya Wilson and Aerial James are seniors at Anacostia Senior High School.