This is the 79th season of Community Concerts and its 20th year working with the Crown Coliseum. Community Concerts was founded in 1935, making it Fayetteville’s oldest arts organization. The longevity of the group is impressive in its own right, but the fact that it is comprised of volunteers who are dedicated to bringing the best entertainment from around the world to the Fayetteville community is a reflection of their dedication to its mission.
This month, Community Concerts brings R&B legend Smokey Robinson to the Crown Theatre. Chances are, if you don’t recognize his name, you will surely recognize his music.
Born Feb. 19, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan, as William Robinson Jr., he started singing at a very early age. In the early 1950s, he formed the group that would become world famous R&B group The Miracles, and his ticket to fame. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was the Vice President of Motown Records. In the 1970s, he decided to take on a solo career and produced his first Grammy for the best R&B vocal performance in 1987. Since then, Robinson has continued to delight audiences all around the world with his smooth musical poetry.
He has also had a successful career as a songwriter, writing songs for his own group, The Miracles, as well as hits for The Temptations, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, Marvin Gaye and many others. Some of his most famous songs are “My Girl,” “You Beat Me to the Punch” and “Don’t Mess with Bill.” Bob Dylan is quoted as saying Robinson is America’s “greatest living poet.”
Robinson faced many struggles as a young man. He grew up in a rough part of Detroit and was raised by his older sister. In the ‘80s, he struggled, but overcame cocaine addiction. He attributed his recovery to religion, which greatly influences much of his new music. In addition to his thriving musical career, Robinson shares his experiences through public speaking. His works have left a powerful imprint on American culture. The Miracles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, he has been awarded an honorary degree from Howard University and he was chosen as a Kennedy Center Honoree. His influence has also reached across the pond with The Beatles citing him as a major influence on their work.
Robinson’s career has been a long one, but after four decades, every performance is as engaging and entertaining as his very first. His concert is perfect for those who already love his music and those who have not yet discovered it. Robinson has evolved as an artist over the course of his career, but his sound and messages have remained timeless. The concert is not generational; it is an amazing experience for everyone who enjoys incredible music.
Community Concerts has spent decades bridging the gap between generations. When conversations fail, it is often a song that can deliver a message. Showing true dedication to its vision, Community Concerts has several programs that are designed to engage the community and support those who seek to make the greater Fayetteville area better through music and entertaining. Community Concerts awards scholarships each year to deserving high school seniors in the community. Since the program’s inception, 24 students have received scholarships. Local musicians and performers are often invited to open for the main acts during the concert season. Local citizens are recognized for their contributions to the music and arts culture in Fayetteville and are inducted to the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame each year. Senior citizens and other community members who often don’t have the extra cash to purchase concert tickets are often given free tickets to the concerts. In recent seasons, these have included the Vision Resource Center, Urban Ministry, The Sunshine Center, members of local fire and police departments, high school theater arts classes, members of our military and many more.
The Smokey Robinson concert will be held on April 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Crown Theatre, which is located at 1960 Coliseum Drive. For more information, visit http://www.community-concerts.com/index.php or call 910-323-1991. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Crown Box Office or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets range from $38 to $83. Community Concerts is a nonprofit organization so sponsorship is integral for the survival of the organization. Season membership starts at $160 and includes tickets to the six shows of the season.