"Motown the Musical" is returning to Broadway for a limited run, but on Monday even those who can't get to New York can enjoy a little Motown fun. One of its greatest icons, Smokey Robinson is scheduled to join the lineup of superstars who will perform in the Capitol 4th concert broadcast live from Washington, DC on PBS. Throw in a close up, too, and they may notice that Robinson is also looking a little more handsome than usual.
"I'm honored to do it," the Detroit native told Center On The Aisle's Steve Schonberg last week about singing in the Capitol 4th concert. "That's a great United States celebration... When they contacted me, I said, 'of course I'd do it.'"
On the country's 240th birthday -- of which Robinson has seen 70 of them -- the U.S.A. celebrates in reflection and with pride, but also heightened distress due to a range of issues. Encouragingly, Robinson says, though, "l travel all over the world and I guarantee you that, as far as I'm concerned, America is it. We live in the greatest country in the world... so to be a part of a celebration that is [acknowledging] that fact, I'm very proud to do it."
The founder and frontman of "The Miracles," Robinson was born to a poor family in Detroit's North End area but went on to achieve worldwide acclaim as an award-winning singer, songwriter, producer and record executive. He served as Motown's Vice President from the mid-'60s until 1988 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Tom Bergeron ("Dancing with the Stars") will return to host the Capitol Fourth concert, which -- in addition to Robinson -- will feature performances by Kenny Loggins, Gavin DeGraw, Cassadee Pope, Sutton Foster and the cast of the Broadway musical, "On Your Feet!" all accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Jack Everly. Alisan Porter, the Season 10 winner of "The Voice," will open the show with the "National Anthem."
Robinson's also been keeping busy with his latest business endeavor, a new skin line, Skinphonic, which Smokey says he and his wife, Frances, created after Smokey began to experience issues with his own skin.
"It was designed originally for the pigmentation of people of color. That includes all people of color. I'm not just talking about black people," Robinson said. "It's a three step system and there's two systems actually. There's one for women called 'My Girl' and one for men called 'Get Ready' [named for two of his best-known, penned songs]. It helps with Hypopigmentation... when you start to get dark spots on your skin and when you have blackheads or wrinkles or anything like that, skin damage."
"In about a week or two, my skin was just really wonderful, as far as I'm concerned. It got smoother and everything. I recommend it to everybody and I'm very proud of the fact that it's coming out," he added.
That's not to say he's slowed down at all on the music, either. Robinson has a schedule of tour dates lined up, is working on material for a new album and recently collaborated with Pharrell, recording a song for the score of an upcoming film.
Steve Schonberg is the editor-in-chief of www.centerontheaisle.com and is seen regularly on NBC's "Weekend Today in New York."