Smokey Robinson Breaks Cracker Barrel Color Barrier With ‘Now and Then’ Album – Spinner
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Though commonly thought of as a Southern eating institution, Cracker Barrel has recently been offering up exclusive country music release to its customers — until now. This week, legendary R&B singer Smokey Robinson becomes the first African-American artist to put out an album with the restaurant chain, which has faced plenty of charges of racism and discrimination over the years. Naturally, the feat that isn’t lost on Robinson.
“I’m the first black artist they’ve ever done,” Robinson tells Spinner. “It’s like a milestone for me and for them. They’re trying to dispel their image of being bigots and all that stuff. They’ve had that image and they’re not really like that. I went to Nashville, which is their headquarters, and their employees and hiring practices are very diverse. But they started out being just a white thing. I don’t know, back in the day when they first started out, they could’ve been prejudiced.”
For their first offering, Robinson put together an album called ‘Now and Then,’ which culls six tracks from his 2009 album, ‘Time Flies When You’re Having Fun,’ as well as six recently recorded live renditions of classic Robinson tunes such as ‘I Second That Emotion,’ ‘The Tracks of My Tears’ and ‘The Tears of a Clown.’
“When you’re a singer, you voice is your instrument, and when you take care of yourself, everything else will fall in line,” the 70-year-old Robinson explains of his longevity. “I run, I walk, I’ve always had a good diet all my life. I haven’t eaten any pork or red meat since 1972.”
Indeed, Robinson has been quite active over the last year. Check out his performance at Spinner’s SXSW Soul Revue and you can see that it seems like he’s probably passed on plenty of free biscuits and gravy offerings.