Stevie Wonder, John Legend headline Motown tribute concert
LOS ANGELES (AP):
Stevie Wonder jammed with his harmonica, John Legend crooned while playing the piano, and Ciara pranced onstage dressed like Rick James on Tuesday night at Motown Records’ 60th anniversary concert.
Wonder closed out the all-star line-up, performing more than a half-dozen songs at the ‘Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration’ at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The tribute, hosted by Smokey Robinson and Cedric the Entertainer, will air April 21 on CBS.
Motown founder Berry Gordy said he fulfilled his dreams of creating a record label to make music for “all people”. The legendary music mogul started the historic label in 1959, which was home to numerous music artistes, including Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, The Temptations, The Supremes and Diana Ross.
“My dream was to make music for all people,” Gordy said as the crowd applauded. “Well, my dream came true ... I want to thank all of you fans, and your parents, and their grandparents. All around the world, I could say their great-grandparents, but that would make me older than I want to be.”
Some of Motown’s greatest hits were on display: Legend covered Gaye’s Mercy Me and Ne-Yo sang The Jackson 5’s I’ll Be There. Ciara sported a Rick James-like braided wig with beads during her rendition of Give It To Me Baby.
Ross brought attendees to their feet when she opened her set singing to Gordy while sitting next to him. After singing a couple of songs onstage, she returned back to Gordy and sang, My Man.
“This is your legacy,” Ross told Gordy. “I want you to know that you have been a gift to all of us.”
The tribute comes after Jennifer Lopez’s criticised performance honouring the label at the Grammys on Sunday. The Latin singer-actress faced some backlash from social media for her lead participation in the tribute, but received support from Robinson, who joined her in a duet at the awards show.
Lopez’s performance did not come up during the show. The main focus during much of the night was on how Motown influenced different cultures, genders and races. Meghan Trainor, Fantasia, Chloe x Halle, Thelma Houston, Tori Kelly and Martha Reeves took turns in a ‘Women of Motown’ medley.
Another highlight included the ‘First Four Bars’ segment hosted by Cedric the Entertainer. The house band played several Motown hits, and random audience members grabbed the microphone and sang the opening to songs like My Girl,Super Freak,Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and I Heard It Through The Grapevine.