Sheryl Crow, Brandi Carlile, John Legend and more perform Motown classics at MusiCares gala

Sheryl Crow, Brandi Carlile and John Legend took to the stage to perform renditions of classic Motown tunes at the annual Person Of The Year gala last Friday (February 3), as held by The Recording Academy‘s industry nonprofit MusicCares.

Legend sung The Jackson 5‘s 1970 track ‘I’ll Be There’, while Crow sung their 1969 hit ‘I Want You Back’. For her parts, Carlile performed Smokey Robinson & The Miracles‘ 1965 hit ‘The Tracks Of My Tears’. Robinson himself was honoured as one of the event’s titular People Of The Year, alongside Motown Records founder Berry Gordy.

In a statement shared in the weeks leading up to the event, Robinson said that he was “so excited” for the gala performances. “These artists are my friends, and I not only love them, but I’m honored that they will be performing my music, along with hits from the Motown catalogue,” he said.

Elsewhere during the night, Chloe x Halle covered ‘Baby Love’ by The Supremes, while Dionne Warwick covered ‘My Guy’ by Mary Wells and Mumford & Sons covered ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’ by Barrett Strong. The Doobie Brothers‘ Michael McDonald covered ‘Lonely Teardrops’ by Jackie Wilson, while Trombone Shorty covered ‘Shotgun’ by Junior Walker & The All Stars.

A few artists joined forces for their tributes, too. Valerie Simpson and Jimmie Allen linked up to sing ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ (best known via Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s 1967 rendition, or Diana Ross‘ 1970 take), while actress Rita Wilson and Sebastián Yatra took on the duet of ‘It Takes Two’ by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston. A quadrant of Best New Artist nominees at this year’s Grammys – Samara Joy, Molly Tuttle, Domi and JD Beck – also teamed up for a medley of Motown hits.

The Isley Brothers delivered a Four Tops medley, including renditions of ‘Baby I Need Your Loving’, ‘It’s The Same Old Song’, ‘Reach Out (I’ll Be There)’ and ‘I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)’. They also performed their own 1966 song, ‘This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)’.

Other acts who performed their own material included The Temptations (who delivered renditions of ‘My Girl’ and ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’) and Stevie Wonder (‘I’ll Try Something New’ and ‘The Tears Of A Clown’). “It is more than a pleasure to be here,” Wonder said before his mini-set, “because were it not for the two people that are here that we’re recognising, I wouldn’t be here.”

Have a look at some footage from the night below:

MusiCares previously honoured Joni Mitchell as its 2022 Person Of The Year, while Aerosmith were celebrated with the title in 2020, and Dolly Parton in 2019. Last year’s ceremony was particularly notable, as it saw Mitchell deliver her first public performance in nine years when she joined Carlile, Beck, Cyndi Lauper, Stephen Stills, Jon Batiste and more to sing her 1970 classics ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ and ‘The Circle Game’.

Robinson, meanwhile, recently announced his first album of new material in over a decade, ‘Gasms’. The nine-track album will arrive independently on April 28, and has been previewed with lead single ‘If We Don’t Have Each Other’.

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