Smokey Robinson and Motown Records mastermind Berry Gordy made history together in the 1960s, when they were instrumental in creating what Motown billed as: “The sound of Young America.”

Now, the longtime friends and collaborators will make history again as the first two artists to be jointly honored as the MusiCares Persons of the Year. They will be celebrated Feb. 3 at the 32nd annual all-star MusiCares gala fundraising dinner concert at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson to Be Honored at the 2023 MusiCares® Persons of the Year Gala

L-R Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson Mario Escobar photo

The glittery event takes place two days before the 2023 edition of the Grammy Awards are held at the adjacent Arena (formerly known as Staples Center). Grammy nominees will be announced next month.

In 2018, Fleetwood Mac became the first band to be selected as the MusiCares Person of the Year. All other previous honorees have been solo artists, including everyone from Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton and Lionel Richie to Bruce Springsteen, Carole King and Luciano Pavarotti.

“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,” said MusiCares Executive Director MusiCares Laura Segura in a statement released Thursday morning.

“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.”


MusiCares honors musicians for their artistic achievements and their support of charitable causes.

A branch of the Recording Academy, under whose auspices the Grammys are also held, MusiCares has raised more than $100 million since its inception to help provide financial and medical assistance to artists and music industry professionals. Between March 2020 and July 2021 it distributed $28,000,000 to 38,000 MusiCares recipients.

Gordy, 92, and Robinson, 82, became friends and collaborators in Detroit in the late 1950s before Gordy launched Motown Records in his converted garage. The upstart label became the launching pad for such young legends-in-the-making as Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops and Robinson and his band, The Miracles.

“I was mentored by Berry Gordy and he stressed the importance of always wanting to have a good song right at the start,” Robinson said, in an August interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune.

“I was one of the first five employees at Motown. I was with Berry at Motown since day one. There were five of us. We did everything. We boxed up the records, put the labels on them, shipped them out, everything.”

Gordy sounded effusive in a statement issued Thursday morning, saying: “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!


“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,” Gordy said.

In late 2020, Robinson was hospitalized for nearly two weeks after contracting COVID-19. He did not resume performing until July 2021.

“I have supported MusiCares for many years and know what great work they do for our creative community who need our help,” Robinson said in a Thursday morning statement.

“Recently, when no one could tour, (MusiCares) 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.”

The MusiCares Person of the Year – this year, make that Persons – gala each year features a bevy of legends and rising stars paying tribute in music to the honoree – this year, make that honorees – by performing their best-known songs.

When 2022 MusiCares Person of the Year Joni Mitchell was feted at this year’s edition of the event in Las Vegas, the musical lineup included Brandi Carlile, Herbie Hancock, Beck, Jon Baptiste, Stephen Stills, Chaka Khan, Cyndi Lauper, St. Vincent, Leon Bridges and more.

Ticket prices for the 2023 MusiCares start at $2,500 per seat and proceeds benefit the nonprofit organization. Tickets are available online at


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