Legendary singer, songwriter, producer and icon Smokey Robinson sat down with EGOT talk show host Jennifer Hudson and recreated with her his "Ooo Baby Baby" Soul Train performance with Aretha Franklin from 1979.
Robinson was coaxed into the impromptu duet with Hudson, after he reminisced over it's origin. "I don’t remember exactly how it came about," Robinson recalls. "I think that she was going to do a performance on Soul Train that day, and I just happened to be there because the New Miracles were there, and they had a new lead singer. I brought them over to do Soul Train. And Don Cornelius, you know, he was the instigator. He said, 'I want y'all to sing something for me.' And she just went to the piano and started playing Ooo Baby Baby' and we sang it."
Before launching into their own rendition, Hudson warned, "I’m no Aretha," but Robinson wasn’t having any of that, reassuring her, "Oh, please, girl. You are Jennifer." (Hudson played the soul legend in 2021's Respect).
Robinson has continued to be active in the recording industry, having recently released his first studio album in nine years "Gasms" in April. He also revealed to Hudson that he took his granddaughter and her friend to see Taylor Swift when her Eras Tour made a stop in Pittsburgh in June. "I took her to meet Taylor Swift and I mean Pittsburgh was shut down," Robinson remembered. "It was shut down. The traffic was just, it was like the President was in town." Robinson and Swift are no strangers, having attended awards shows in the past.
"Well, I love Taylor. She's a really nice person and with all the fame and stuff like that," he enthused. "Taylor performed for three hours and 25 minutes, [my granddaughter and her friend] didn’t sit down for one time," the star continued. "And they knew every song and they screamed for, like, three hours."
"Gasms" has received mixed fandom acceptance, mostly due to its overt sexual themes. Critics have praised Robinson for's minimalist mixing and quiet vocals, allowing the strength of his voice to show through. And as noted, he is one of the few musical artists to remain vital into his 80s, making music that, even as it stirs up controversy, continuing to remain an indelible talent.