Smokey Robinson Studying Spanish For New Record
Smokey Robinson started his music career with a song called "Got a Job," and rest assured the Motown legend even at 72, is working as hard as many of his younger proteges.
Robinson tells Billboard.com that he has two albums in the works -- a Christmas collection and a sets of songs he plans to record in Spanish. He'll also be inducting his group, the Miracles, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 12 in Cleveland, and he's thumping the drum for Human Nature, the Australian vocal quartet that performs a show of Motown songs in Las Vegas and has just released "The Motown Record" as well as a PBS special and DVD. The troupe kicks off a U.S. tour March 24 in Detroit.
"They're the bomb group, they really are," Robinson says of Human Nature, which he met when he was approached to be a guest on one of their previous albums. "They came into the studio one night and sang for me a capella and just blew me away. They had not had the exposure...so I got them in Atlantic city for two weeks and then into Las Vegas at the Imperial Hotel, and they were so awesome and so incredible that they got a two-year extension and they named the club there after them."
Human Nature's Andrew Tierney, meanwhile, says Robinson's patronage has been invaluable. "This friendship and bond has really developed with him, which is amazing for us because we love his music and respect him so much," Tierney notes. "He said, 'I want to help you in whatever way I can.' He said we remind him of the friendship he had with the Miracles. This friendship and ambassadorship has been unreal."
Robinson is also pleased he can give the Miracles their due next month, explaining that he had wanted the group to go into the Rock Hall with him when he was inducted in 1987. "Ever since then I've been trying to get the Miracles in and making calls and signing petitions and everything, because they really deserve it," Robinson says. "I don't understand why it's taken work to make this happen for them; we were one of the hottest and most prolific groups in the world. I'm just so happy it's happening. It'll be a great night."
Robinson is maintaining an active touring schedule, but the studio beckons for his upcoming projects as well. The Christmas album is first up, with recording likely in May or June. "I might write a couple songs for it," Robinson says, "but basically it'll be the traditional Christmas songs, the ones that people have loved for generations upon generations. We're mapping it out now, and we've got a list of about 50 songs that we'll start picking from pretty soon.
Meanwhile, Robinson is also writing new material for the Spanish album. "I've been studying Spanish for the last three or four years, so I'm actually writing the songs, and I'm going to record some traditional Spanish music, too," he reveals. "We have to do the Christmas album because there's a time window for that, but I'm looking forward to doing the Spanish record and getting into something that's different for me."