Music City USA will definitely earn its nickname this month. At three venues, three incredibly talented African American singers will enthrall their audiences. Each vocalist primarily performs in a different genre, encompassing classical, country, and soul/R&B. The fascinating part is the country artist will be singing with the Nashville Symphony and the soul/R&B star will be at the “Mother Church of Country Music.”
Ryman Auditorium. December 16. That’s all that really needs be said. But, anyway, William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr. is a legendary singer-songwriter, record producer, record executive and co-founder of Motown Records. Robinson and his group, the Miracles met Berry Gordy after a failed audition for singer Jackie Wilson’s managers. Gordy was impressed with Robinson’s vocals and ambitious songwriting. With his help they released, “Got a Job.” It was the beginning of a successful collaboration and the beginnings of Motown.
In 1960, Miracles recorded their and Motown’s first million selling hit “Shop Around.” Between 1960 and 1970, Robinson produced 26 Top 40 hits with the Miracles including several Top 10 hits, such as “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “I Second That Emotion” and the group’s only number-one pop hit, “The Tears Of A Clown.” Other notable hits include “Ooo Baby Baby,” and “The Tracks of My Tears.”
Robinson was one of the major songwriters and producers for Motown, penning many hit singles such as, “Who’s Loving You,” “My Guy,” “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” “My Girl,” “Get Ready” and “Ain’t That Peculiar.”
In 1975, Robinson released his most successful solo album, A Quiet Storm, which yielded three hit singles. His classic hit “Cruisin’” peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. Robinson topped the charts again with another sensual ballad, “Being with You,” and teamed up with fellow Motown label mate Rick James recording the R&B ballad “Ebony Eyes.”
Robinson made a triumphant return with the album, One Heartbeat and the singles, “Just to See Her” and “One Heartbeat,” both Top 10 hits. “Just To See Her” won Robinson his first Grammy Award. In the same year, he was inducted as a solo artist to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Robinson has been Inducted into the Kennedy Center, awarded an individual star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a second star with The Miracles. He was awarded a medal at the National Medal of Arts, A Heritage Award at the Soul Train Music Awards and a BET Lifetime Achievement Award. Howard University conferred on Robinson the degree of Doctor of Music as did the Berklee College of Music.
On December 16, Nashville Opera and its Committee for Artistic and Social Impact (CASI) will present An Evening with Will Liverman at the Noah Liff Opera Center. This one-night-only concert is a rare opportunity to hear one of the most exciting, up-and-coming baritones of our time in an intimate, cabaret-style setting. Called “a voice for this historic moment” by the Washington Post, the GRAMMY-nominated Liverman is the recipient of the 2022 Beverly Sills Artist Award by The Metropolitan Opera. He opened the Met’s 2021-22 season in a celebrated “breakout performance” (New York Times) as Charles in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones. Following Fire’s success, the Met announced that Liverman will star in Anthony Davis’ X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, the second opera by a Black composer in the company’s history, premiering in fall 2023. An Evening with Will Liverman will feature opera selections, Liverman’s favorites, and very likely a holiday carol or two. This is one night you don’t want to miss.
Mickey Guyton in Music City Christmas
This Music City holiday tradition returns December 15 – December 18 with special guest vocalist country star Mickey Guyton. Celebrate the most magical time of year with your Nashville Symphony and Principal Pops Conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez for a night of holiday fun amid the splendor of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. This one-of-a-kind symphonic spectacular will feature dancers, Broadway singers and some very special guests, including Jolly Old Saint Nick himself.