The Motown Museum unveiled its latest exhibition—Claudette Robinson: A Motown Her-Story—at an exclusive event on Thursday, November 9, 2023. The private unveiling, attended by Motown alumni, Museum board members, and friends and family of Claudette Robinson, offered an intimate insight into her childhood, career, and legacy as portrayed in the exhibition.
Claudette Robinson was a member of The Miracles, the first group to sign to Motown. The group’s track, “Shop Around,” marked Motown’s first million-selling record. Recognized for her success as a woman in a male-dominated group, she earned the title “First Lady of Motown,” as acknowledged by Berry Gordy in his book, “To Be Loved.”
Claudette Robinson married fellow Miracle, Smokey Robinson, and together, they had two children—Tamla and Berry. Tamla, working alongside the Museum’s associate curator, Kemuel Benyehudah, played a crucial role in curating materials from Claudette’s personal archive collection, ensuring her narrative was authentically portrayed.
“There’s a great story about [The Miracles], but a really, really inspiring story about Claudette Robinson” – Robin Terry, Chairwoman and CEO of Motown Museum
The exhibition chronicles Robinson’s life, beginning with her humble childhood in Louisiana and tracing her success with The Miracles at Motown. On display are artifacts such as photos, awards, news clippings, and the uniform she wore on the cover of the “Hi, We’re The Miracles” album.
“I did not wear long gowns. I dressed like the guys, with the exception of I had a skirt and they had pants. We thought we were pretty cool, to tell you the truth.” – Claudette Robinson.
Attendees had the opportunity to partake in a Q&A session surrounding the exhibit and Claudette’s life experiences. Discussions touched on her relationship with Esther Gordy Edwards, activism with Rosa Parks, and her time as a sharpshooter in the Marine Corps.
The event concluded with a guest asking Tamla and Claudette to share what inspires them most about each other. Tamla praised her mother as a strong yet graceful role model, leaving a lasting positive impression on everyone she meets. Claudette spoke on her daughter’s hard work in organizing the family’s archive collection and collaborating with the Motown Museum to bring the new exhibition to life.
The exhibition is now open to the public and included in the Motown Museum tour. Plan your visit today to experience firsthand—Claudette Robinson: A Motown Her-Story—and learn more about this unsung hero of Motown.
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