‘Motown music is for everybody’ – Smokey Robinson.
Last night, Jennifer Lopez brought it like she always does with an honorable performance tributing Motown at the Grammy Awards. The singer – who looked stunning as always – danced and sang through a medley of some of Motown’s biggest hits. And, she was joined by the likes of Smokey Robinson, Ne-Yo, and Alicia Keys.
She did the legacy of one of the most important record labels in history justice – jumping from hit to hit such as ‘Please Mr. Postman,’ ‘My Girl,’ and ‘Do You Love Me.’ While she is not the most powerful vocalist, she is an incredible live performer. I think she was a great choice for this performance.
However, many people do not.
Tweets started pouring about how she had no business being on stage for such an important performance for Motown. Someone tweeted, ‘Jennifer Lopez deserves to go to jail for doing that Motown tribute.’ Another person said, ‘That JLo performance is exactly what happens when you press to invite EVERY and ANYBODY to the ‘cookout.’ There was also a ‘All the black artists that could’ve done this damn tribute and they picked JLO? Racism.’
Here’s where I find it conflicting that most of black Twitter (and yes, ‘black Twitter’ is a thing…) is criticizing Jennifer Lopez because of one reason … she is not black. What is not racist about that?
Let’s get this right. Motown didn’t just influence black artists. It influenced many artists of many different backgrounds, which is why music is so inclusive and important. Sure – Jennifer Hudson’s vocals may have been better affiliated with the sounds of the songs Lopez did, and maybe Stevie Wonder has a longer history with the label. But, they could not have put on the kind of upbeat performance that a ‘celebratory’ tribute needed. And, the kind of performance Lopez delivered was very much needed in between all the other performances.
Smokey Robinson, who joined Lopez during the performance and is a vital asset to the success that was and is Motown, is defending Lopez at all costs. He said, ‘I don’t think anyone who is intelligent is upset. I think anyone who is upset is stupid.’ He praised Lopez’s performance. Likewise, the official Motown Records page on Instagram posted a photo with the caption ‘A Performance To Remember.’
"@JLo can't do the Motown Tribute in Black History Month!"
YESS THE FUCK SHE CAN AND SHE DID! JLo did that!!! pic.twitter.com/wNjKgKSeOM
— Opinionated Me (@opinion8dmecom) February 11, 2019
The reality is that Lopez killed it. But there is nothing that she could have done to please the critics … err, black Twitter. They were furious as soon as JLo was announced as the Motown tribute a few weeks before the Grammy Awards. Why? Because she is not black. Hmm…
Where are we moving as a country? For a few moments, it felt like we were going in the right direction. It seems like you really can’t please anyone. If you see the world through the lens of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., you’ll never get full equality. Jennifer Lopez, the human, the artist, is incredible. The music of Motown influenced her. The music she loved she honored. And, I think she did this prominent record label in music – who did give us great black performers throughout the last 60 years – very proud.
Thankfully, she is tuning out the backlash.
Before the award show, she dedicated the performance to her mother Lupe, ‘Mommy, this is for you because we used to dance around to this music,. I grew up with this music and me and my sisters, the three of us, we were, like, the backups. We were The Temptations and we just sing with her and I feel it’s a dream come true.’ Aww..
And now, after the backlash, she says it best…
‘The thing about music is that it inspires all. Any type of music can inspire any type of artist. You can’t tell people what to love. You can’t tell people what they can or can’t do, what they should sing or not sing. You gotta do what’s in your heart. It was for my mom. I could cry. It’s such a good moment. It’s just a dream come true. I’m just very humbled and honored to be able to have sung those songs.’
Jennifer, you killed it. Good job. I’m proud of you. Your fans are proud of you. Many artists are proud of you. The Bronx is proud of you. Motown is proud of you.
P.S. NFL give her the damn Super Bowl halftime show next year.
(Photos: Getty Images)