Smokey Robinson to Celebrate America at A Capitol Fourth Concert

Robinson celebrates America with a performance at A Capitol Fourth concert on PBS

Smokey Robinson. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, GREG DOHERTY/GETTY)
Smokey Robinson. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, GREG DOHERTY/GETTY)

Renowned singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson, an icon of American music, is set to perform at A Capitol Fourth, the nation’s official Independence Day concert.

The event will be broadcast live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on July 4 at 8 p.m. EST on PBS.

Robinson, 84, is eager to celebrate America despite its current challenges and political divisions. “It is a wonderful thing to celebrate America,” Robinson told PEOPLE. “As far as I’m concerned, America is the greatest country in the world.

To celebrate it is always important to me, because I think it should be celebrated. We have our problems like everywhere, in the country [and] in the world, but we are still, as far as I’m concerned, the greatest thing that there is. So, it deserves to be celebrated.”

Robinson’s extensive catalogue of hit songs, including “Shop Around,” “Tracks of My Tears,” “You Really Got A Hold On Me,” “Tears of a Clown,” and “I Second That Emotion,” has become a significant part of American pop culture.

His music has served as a unifying force during turbulent times, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s. Today, his songs remain timeless classics, essential to the nation’s cultural soundtrack.

“I have several songs now that are considered in the Great American Songbook,” Robinson said.

Smokey Robinson. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, EMMA MCINTYRE/GETTY)
Smokey Robinson. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, EMMA MCINTYRE/GETTY)

“That’s a joy to me, because when I write a song, I hope I’m writing a song that if I’d written it 50 years before then, it would’ve meant something to people and it’s going to mean something currently, and 50 years from now, it’s going to mean something to people.

So I try to write a song that’s going to do those things, and some of those songs have proven themselves to be that, and I’m very, very flattered and very proud of that.”

Robinson’s return to the stage at A Capitol Fourth marks his first appearance at the event in two decades. The concert will feature a diverse lineup of artists, including Fantasia Barrino, Darren Criss, Sheila E., Fitz & Noelle from Fitz and The Tantrums, Sister Sledge, Chloe Flower, Loren Allred, and the National Symphony Orchestra. Alfonso Ribeiro will host the celebration.

Robinson is particularly excited about the multi-generational audience that attends his concerts. “I love meeting young people,” he said.

“That’s one of the things I enjoy about doing the concerts, because of the fact that I see people at my concerts who have lap kids with them, little kids who are 3 and 4 years old sitting on their laps watching the concert. And when I first saw them, they were on their parents’ laps.”

The legendary performer also enjoys discovering and supporting new music artists embraced by each new generation. “I think music is in great hands,” he said. Robinson praised contemporary artists like Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Usher, and Jordin Sparks.

Smokey Robinson. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, ANDREW TOTH/GETTY)
Smokey Robinson. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, ANDREW TOTH/GETTY)

“You got people out there like Taylor Swift, who is the hottest act in the world — and plus, she’s a good friend!” he said. “I love a lot of people. I think there’s so many talented young people out there. And I’m not one of those people who says, ‘Well, the young people are not making any good music.’

That’s not true! There’s young people making some great music out there, and I love a lot of them. I think a lot of them are great performers and doing great things. Bruno Mars, Usher, Jordin Sparks and everybody. There’s a lot of great people out there doing some really, really, really great music, and I’m really happy about that.”

Robinson, who continues to record new albums and tour, finds inspiration in these new artists. “Absolutely, because I’m competing with them,” he laughed. “I’m still in this, so I’m competing with them!”

A Capitol Fourth will be broadcast on PBS on Thursday, July 4, 2024, from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. E.T. The program will also be available to the nation’s troops serving around the world through American Forces Network. Additionally, it will stream on YouTube and the PBS website, and will be available as Video on Demand from July 4 to July 18, 2024.

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