Smokey Robinson Defends Jennifer Lopez’s Grammys 2019 Motown Tribute Amid Twitter Criticism
"Anyone who is upset is stupid," Robinson told Variety of complaints that the Grammys' Motown Records tribute should've included only black artists
Jennifer Lopez took the stage with host Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo and Smokey Robinson at the 2019 Grammy Awards to honor Motown Records. She performed hits like “Dancing in the Street,” “Do You Love Me,” “The Best Things in Life Are Free” and more, while wearing numerous sparkling numbers, including a one-piece with a deep v cut.
“Mommy, this is for you because we used to dance around to this music,” the Second Act star, 49, said. “I grew up with this music and me and my sisters, the three of us, we were, like, the backups. We were The Temptations and we just sing with her and I feel it’s a dream come true.”
But many Twitter users were quick to criticize Lopez’s participation in the Motown tribute, calling for black performers to honor the genre that was launched by Berry Gordy with artists like Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Gladys Knight & the Pips and The Temptations.
“J. Lo better not salsa her way to the cookout because she is uninvited for that terrible performance,” preacher Jared Sawyer Jr. tweeted on Sunday. “How do you do a Motown tribute without an ALL BLACK cast of artists?! And it’s Black History Month too.”
Sawyer, 21, suggested that Knight, Stevie Wonder, Patti Labelle, Jennifer Hudson, Tina Tuner or “practically anyone else” take Lopez’s place.
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TV and radio personality Bevy Smith, 52, pointed out that female Motown artists would never have been able to give a performance like Lopez’s under Gordy’s direction.
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“The irony of the very sexy J.Lo Motown revue is that Berry Gordy had the women of Motown tame their sexy so as to not fall into the Jezebel, highly sexed trope which White America places black women in!” she wrote on Twitter. “So they could have NEVER given a performance like that, ladies at all times!”
Other tweeters echoed that sentiment.
“We like her well enough but not for this,” @FrankiB wrote. “There are literally 1000s of black musicians that would have performed. This is why #Motown was formed because black artist couldn’t get a chance.”
Added @spanishfly_69, “When I think about Motown that gracefully put the spotlight on black music & artists and the CULTURE during black history month… Ummm NO #JLo is not who comes to mind.”
“I like J.Lo and all but…. How you gonna do Motown like that in black history month????”@3xcalib3r wrote.
Gordy, 89, watched the tribute in the audience.
But Robinson, 78, had no problem with Lopez honoring Motown, defending the choice to Variety at Saturday’s Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy gala.
“I don’t think anyone who is intelligent is upset,” he said. “I think anyone who is upset is stupid.”
The “Being With You” singer said Motown music was “for everybody.”
“Who’s stupid enough to protest Jennifer Lopez doing anything for Motown?” Smokey asked.
The 61st Annual Grammy Awards are broadcasting live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on CBS.