"A Celebration of Gospel Music"
in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Underwritten by the Larry & Mary Gerbens Family Foundation in celebration of the work being done by the Baxter Community Center, the Grand Rapids Symphony's "Celebration of Soul", and the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute.
Listen to this presentation LIVE at 12:30 p.m. EST on Monday, January 21, 2013. Note: Due to contractual restrictions, this presentation will not be recorded or archived.
I’m sure there are a lot of people like me who wish they had the ability to embrace every hurting person in the world and assure them that their lives will get better. I can share that embrace and assurance in my songs.
- Robert Robinson
Robert Robinson is reason to believe that the greatest music reaches every name and crosses every boundary, from audiences in the Pontiac Silverdome to troops in South Korea. Standing five foot five and sipping Diet Coke, Robert is “God’s canary.” He possesses the ability to sing any song and yet remain true to his vision.
There exists a deep sense of goodness about Robert. His father was a pastor and his mother, a church soloist, led the musical ministry on the North side of Minneapolis. At the tender age of 6, Robert (known as Eddie so as not to confuse the young vocalist with his father of the same name) began singing with his family as part of the Robinson Children, and by 15, Robert was directing the church choir. But it was not until around the age of 24 that Robert began to experiment with his prodigious musical gifts outside of the cocoon of church community. At the prodding of friends, family and outsiders, Robert took the modest steps of singing at weddings and small corporate functions, eventually starting a gospel choir at Minneapolis Community College in 1990. Soon, he quit his job as a data processing expert to lead the 100 strong Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir, today heralded by Minnesota Monthly Magazine as “the state’s most decorated group.” 1991 brought Robert a featured role in “Nightingale” at the world-renowned Theatre de la Jeune Lune. In 1992, Robert took part for the first time in Lorie Line’s Christmas tour and remained for 15 years with subsequent appearances on PBS and in Target stores nationwide.
Although Robert points to gospel greats Mahalia Jackson, Tramaine Hawkins, and Vanessa Bell Armstrong (with whom he has performed) as inspiration, Robert Robinson works and lives in his own genre. And eventually, it came time for him to forge a new path, combining his ministry of gospel with a vast experience rooted in soul. Told his vocal stylings were “too big for radio”, Robert set out in 2005 with a tenor voice as the superstar. He became producer, creative director and promoter of his own touring schedule and was named one of the “Ten Best Holiday Shows” by Metro Magazine in 2007. At the same time, Robert became a noted clinician giving master classes across the United States and even finding time to become a two-time national karaoke champion!
In January 2010, Robert launched his newest “Signature” CD and kicked off his latest tour. And reviews continue to pour in. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described Robert as “a volcanic talent.” His performance was depicted as “glorious” by the Salt Lake City Deseret News, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune proclaimed Robert to be “a soaring presence.” Perhaps more importantly, Minnesota’s Insight News distinguished Robert as “a beloved institution,” a nod to both his service to the community and his sterling life’s work. People love Robert. Artists look to him for affirmation. Fans adore his inclusive personality. They don’t necessarily have to embrace gospel to embrace Robert and that is alright with him. It’s all about his soul.