Motown’s First Lady, Muse, New Author Claudette Robinson Takes Us On An Adventure

“Pray first then do what you need to do after that.”- Claudette Robinson

Oftentimes we believe that success is linear but there is no straight path or time frame to achieve your goals. Claudette Robinson of The Miracles is a great example of that notion with her new children’s book that should be on every kid’s bookshelf. Hustle & Soul got the opportunity to catch up with Claudette and see how she went from first lady to the author.

Robinson is one of the original members of The Miracles which were then called The Matadors. But for someone who didn’t plan this route, how did she land there? All it took was for Smokey Robinson who ultimately ended up being her husband to ask if she’d go to an audition with them being that her brother, a founding member, was drafted into the military. Claudette states,

 “  There was an audition and Smokey asked me to go to the audition with the group. I wasn’t too sure about harmonies because I thought they would be too low for me, because I was a soprano 1. However, we got to the audition and they didn’t like our group. It was said that they already had groups with women in them and didn’t think it would work. After, there was a man who overheard us and asked if we could play some other songs. We went to the piano and played, that man was Berry Gordy”. 

Claudette explained that at the time there was no Motown Records. “We got a 2-way deal with End Record Label. Our first check was $3.19 to be divided between group members. The label said it was because of expenses”, says Robinson.

After this upset Berry was convinced to finally start his own record label, Tamla Records. Soon after, it became Motown Records, and in 1960, hit single “Shop Around” sold over 1 million copies. 

So many young artists like The Miracles don’t know what to look for when it comes to signing a record deal or getting into the music industry. Claudette says, “ Have a solid contract, and a lawyer that deals with music and specializes in that field. This business looks easy but it takes up a lot of time. You may not get sleep, or time to hang with friends. I always say pray first then do what you need to do after that.”

You often hear songs during the Motown period such as “My Girl”  referred to as real music. You also hear those that came from that generation voice how different the music is from then to now, however, Claudette believes,

“There are some great artists right now that would have survived back then. Regardless of what people say you can’t keep your talent a secret. Sometimes you have to follow the trends. Time goes by very quickly so you have to figure out what you want to do.”

Throughout the interview, Claudette was very open and honest. And on the note of “My Girl” it’s safe to say she is the muse for that classic and timeless hit in which she sang background on. At the time she and Smokey Robinson were married and trying to have a child. After many miscarriages, this song came about and Smokey’s verse on “My Girl” was simply to show her more love during that time.

Many women wouldn’t want to speak on something so touchy and personal as that however Claudette states, “ I’m hoping my experience will inspire others”.

Claudette is not just inspiring women with her journey but has decided to chase another passion of hers and inspire children with her new children’s book Claudettes Miraculous Motown Adventure.

Although she has written a children’s book that explains and describes the beauty and fun of all things music and Motown, the message that the audience will receive from this book is timeless. Claudette says,

“You’re never too old to start something new. I have a friend that decided to go back to college and got her Bachelors, Masters, & Ph. D. within 7 years, and she’s well in her 60’s with top honors.”

Claudette has always wanted to be a teacher and even volunteered at all of her kid’s school. “I’ve always loved kids they bring so much joy”, says Robinson.

Claudette’s years of volunteering, having kids, and grand-kids of her own have prepared her for this moment. Her career as an artist has also prepared her with tells and the ability to create a soundtrack to the book which may be the next thing you should be on the lookout for. And as soon as COVID-19 is over we are sure her book tour will resume. 

Myra Patrick

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