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Frank Zappa Documentary
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Smokey Robinson Plays One-Off Online Concert For Nonprofit PACER Center

Smokey Robinson performed a one-off concert that aired on November 14 for the Bloomington, Minnesota-based nonprofit the PACER Center.

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Smokey Robinson performs in Atlantic City, New Jersey in November 2019. Photo: Donald Kravitz/Getty Images

Smokey Robinson performed a one-off concert that aired on Saturday (14) for the Bloomington, Minnesota-based nonprofit the PACER Center. He and his band recorded the set in early October at the Roxy in Los Angeles, his longtime home.

Robinson, 80, had been due to play the annual benefit show live in April, but it was postponed and made into an online stream because of coronavirus. All tickets for the event also gave access to silent and live auctions, with proceeds benefitting PACER’s (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) work on behalf of families of children with disabilities and students who are bullied.

A worthy Minnesota cause

PACER Center was created in 1977 by parents of children and youth with disabilities to help fellow parents and their families who face similar challenges. It’s staffed primarily by parents of children with disabilities, and works with 18 disability organizations. The nonprofit notes that its work aims to encourage families in Minnesota and across the nation. PACER is also home to the National Bullying Prevention Center.

The Motown colossus told the Detroit News of the performance: “The film crew came in. I have a six-piece band and three singers. No audience. It was really weird without an audience, but we had fun because I hadn’t seen everybody in a long time. The last actual concert that we did was in February.”

He also told the newspaper that he has been writing during the global crisis. “I’m not a writer who needs to isolate myself and go to the mountains to write,” he said. “Writing happens for me. It’s like an automatic thing. It can happen anywhere or anytime.” Robinson revealed that his latest song is “How You Make Me Feel,” which he hopes to include on his next album, and that he is also recording an EP in Spanish.

“There’s no telling where I’m going to start singing,” he added. “It just comes out. Whatever comes out. I might be singing Sam Smith or Marvin Gaye. It might be something I’ve never heard.”

Listen to the best of Smokey Robinson on Apple Music and Spotify.

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