Robinson received the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song amid multiple standing ovations from an audience filled with political dignitaries at DAR Constitution Hall, the Detroit Free Press reported.
“This is such a wonderful, spectacular, incredible night in my life,” said Robinson, 76. “I’ve had many of them, and this is right at the top of the list.”
Robinson said he had been raised in a north end Detroit home where the music of George and Ira Gershwin played alongside “gutbucket blues,” and that he had dreamed of being in show business since childhood.
A band led by Detroit native Greg Phillinganes steered the evening’s performances. Robinson also took the stage to perform his own “Being With You” and a rendition of the Gershwin’s “Love Is Here to Stay.”
“Smokey was always a great poet who expressed ordinary themes in extraordinary ways,” said Motown founder Berry Gordy.