Tribute group brings sounds of Motown's heyday to Luhrs Center stage
SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. — Traci Robinson-Greene said she’s too young to have experienced all of the Motown era of music that began nearly 60 years ago, but she still loves the music of the era.
“My mom was a big Motown fan, and this is the music she put on when we cleaned the house. I love Gladys Knight. Also, Marvin Gaye, and I think that’s inspired because of my mom. My mom loved Marvin Gaye, so she played a lot of Marvin Gaye in the house and The Temptations. She loved (Temptations members) David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, so it’s a part of me. It wasn’t my era, but I grew up listening to it,” Robinson-Greene said during a telephone interview from New York City.
Robinson-Greene is artistic director and a 10-year cast member of “So Good for the Soul: A Tribute to the Music of Motown,” which will make a stop at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, at H. Ric Luhrs Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Shippensburg University.
“It starts with a bang and ends with a bang. We highlight some of the top performers from Motown and their music. And just a good time. You’re gonna have a good time, you’re gonna wanna dance, we encourage it, sing along, you know. The music is great from that era,” she said.
Robinson-Greene said she’s been singing Motown music most of her life.
“I started singing with my mom at a very young age because she taught us to harmonize. She’s a performer as well. It was a family affair, so I also sang in church with my grandmother when we stayed with her over the summers. So I would say I started singing at a pretty young age, around 6 or 7,” she recalled.
But her artistic talent was not limited to singing, even as a child.
“Well my mother was in show business ... and she made sure we took dance lessons, and we took piano lessons, acting lessons, and I actually became a professional actress at 13, doing a little roadshow called ‘The Jackson 5 Meets Malcolm X,” Robinson-Greene said.
Having studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York also prepared her for future roles.
“I would consider myself a professional dancer first, even though I did musical theater through middle school and high school,” she said.
“So Good for the Soul” has been around for 20 years, and has done more than 2,000 performances, some of which included original Motown stars including original members of The Spinners and The Temptations. Robinson-Greene was once a member of a Marvelettes tribute group.
As performers, Robinson-Greene said the band has their favorites.
“We love the Stevie Wonder section. Of course The Supremes, and The Temptations (too),” she said.
And anyone who isn’t familiar with Motown music can still be entertained by So Good for the Soul, Robinson-Greene said.
“We do give a brief history during the performance. We do give (new fans) an introduction to Motown because there’s so much more that we can’t even cover. But we try to get the highlights and some narration that helps to move the show along,” she said.
The audience for the shows can vary as widely as the venues, which for So Good for the Soul, stretches across the United States.
“I would say we have we have an older demographic but also there’s some younger generations. A lot of people will bring their younger family members because we are a family show. So it’s a wide demographic. But I would say we estimate more of the older generation,” she said.
Regardless of age or location, though, Robinson-Greene said audience members walk out of the show a smile on their faces.
“We have a group of talented musicians and performers and we guarantee that you’ll have a wonderful time,” she said.
Top photo: So Good for the Soul: A Tribute to the Music of Motown will make a stop at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, at H. Ric Luhrs Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Shippensburg University. (Submitted photo)