Following her head-turning performance of several Motown classics at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, Jennifer Lopez got some backlash for being the artist to perform the hits. Now, her co-performer, and Motown legend, Smokey Robinson is defending her.
Robinson came to Lopez’s defense on Instagram with a lengthy text statement after critics claimed she was not the right person to perform music by mostly black artists such as The Temptations, Gladys Knight, The Supremes and Marvin Gaye.
“Attention, all those of you who protested a wonderful, super talented, world renowned, super star like Jennifer Lopez, showing her love and support for Motown music, here’s some food for thought: On the very first day of Motown Berry Gordy told the five of us who were present, ‘I’m gonna start my own record company and we’re gonna make music for everybody and always be sure to make quality music that the world can enjoy,” Robinson wrote. “And through the grace of God and hard work and determination, we accomplished that. Kids of all races, worldwide, grew up loving the music of Motown, imitating our acts.”
The star went on to defend Jennifer Lopez and take offense to the notion that Motown is just for the black community.
“So now you’re gonna try to diminish the scope of Motown and narrow it down to just music for Black people and you call yourself defending the image of Motown. Well you’re trying to set us back a hundred years,” he wrote. “If you call yourself loving Motown, be happy that we reached so many people and broke down so many racial barriers and that an artist like Jennifer, even after hearing all your negative comments, still loved Motown enough to do the tribute anyway. Now that’s love and respect.”
Robinson concluded his lengthy statement with a message of unity.
“J Lo was great and we at Motown love her. The beauty of Motown is that we’re a family made up of Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian women and men. We had a very diverse employee roster. So I hope knowing these few facts helps you get your perspective together and think about the hate you’re spreading.”
This isn’t the first time that Robinson has defended Lopez for agreeing to do the Motown tribute. When it was announced, fans of Motown far and wide got upset at the choice to let a Latina woman sing the songs
“I don’t think anyone who is intelligent is upset,” he told Variety at the time. “I think anyone who is upset is stupid.”
Meanwhile, Lopez herself has defended the choice to perform alongside Robinson, Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo and Guadalupe “Lupe” Rodriguez at the show.
“Super excited, humbled that they asked me to do it. But you know, I want to dedicate this performance to my mom because this is the music we listened to in our living room. Me and my mom. I have three sisters. So, the three of us would be the Temptations, The Supremes, everybody. And my mom, this was her music. I grew up on it. This and musicals,” Lopez told Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet. “I think that’s why I’m the performer I am today, because of that music.”