Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson will be honored as the 2023 MusiCares persons of the year, the Recording Academy’s philanthropic partner announced on Thursday (Oct. 20). The longtime friends and music legends will receive the honor at the annual gala on Feb. 3, 2023.
The event, which takes place two nights before the 65th annual Grammy Awards, will mark the first time the gala will honor two individuals together, as it’s typically reserved for a single person or a musical group. With Berry Gordy as the creator of the Motown Sound and Smokey Robinson as his first writer and artist, the duo transformed popular music and fostered a legendary friendship — one that has spanned more than six decades and produced countless classic songs.
“Wow! How honored I am to be named the MusiCares Persons of the Year, and together with my best friend of over 65 years, the great Smokey Robinson. How special is that!” Gordy says in a press statement. “I am grateful to be included in MusiCares’ remarkable history of music icons. The work they do is so critical to the well-being of our music community, and I look forward to a most exciting evening.”
Robinson adds: “I have supported MusiCares for many years, and know what great work they do for our creative community who need our help. Recently, when no one could tour, they were a lifeline to those in the touring industry for monetary help and mental health services. I am honored that they have chosen me and my best friend and Motown founder Berry Gordy to share this beautiful honor and celebrate with you all together.”
Robinson was honored by the Recording Academy with a Grammy Legend Awards in 1990 and later received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. Four songs by his group The Miracles have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, including “The Tracks of My Tears.” He’s been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Gordy received the Grammy Salute to Industry Icons’ President’s Merit Award in 2008 and the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama with a “Salute to Motown” evening at the White House in 2011.
In 2019, the Recording Academy paid tribute to Motown Records’ 60th anniversary with a special celebration hosted by Robinson along with Cedric the Entertainer and included performances from Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Boyz II Men, Chloe x Halle, Tori Kelly, John Legend, Ne-Yo and more.
“MusiCares is thrilled to be honoring Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson at the 2023 Persons of the Year gala, which will be the first time we are honoring two legends together,” says Laura Segura, executive director of MusiCares. “With Mr. Gordy as the creator of the Motown Sound, and Mr. Robinson as his first writer and artist, their music, along with the many others who joined Motown, reached out across a racially divided country to transform popular music, creating a musical legacy like no other.”
The person of the year gala is one of the most prestigious events held during Grammy Week. It includes a reception and silent auction, followed by a dinner and concert featuring other artists paying tribute to the honoree — and, often, a night-capping performance by the person of the year. Money raised from the gala goes toward MusiCares programs and services that assist the music community through physical and mental health resources, addiction recovery, preventative clinics, personal emergencies and disaster relief.
Tables for the 2023 MusicCares Person of the Year gala are available to purchase here.