There’s nothing like sitting in the balcony of the Mother Church, buzzing with excitement knowing a Motown legend is headlining the historic stage. That’s how it felt before the iconic Smokey Robinson took the stage. He quickly addressed the important stage saying he used to watch “sister” Minnie Pearl right where he was standing.
A few moments later, Robinson broke into “The Tracks of My Tears.” He made my heart skip a beat and clearly affected the women in front of me who threw their hands up in the air like it was a Sunday at church. After all, he was actively taking us to church. Although he broke our hearts with “The Tracks of My Tears,” he (figuratively) made some babies with “Ooh Baby Baby” and “Just to See Her.” The evening was a rollercoaster of emotions and I’d venture to guess he healed some souls that were in the Ryman audience.
A standout moment from the night was when Robinson brought two fans onstage to lead the crowd with “Cruisin’.” One of the fans gushed about how she’d been in love with the legend since she was just 10 years old. Robinson graciously replied, “I love you right back.” She teared up while he sang. It was at this moment that I realized I was seeing a show that was more than a performance. This was an emotional connection between a living legend and his fans. We were all truly in the presence of greatness.
Robinson’s voice was as clear on that stage as it is on my old 45. The connections we witnessed were pure and powerful. No one paid for a concert that night. Instead, we paid for Robinson to lead us in a spiritual experience.