When news surfaced that Jennifer Lopez was going to do a Motown tribute at this year’s Grammy Awards, a lot of folks were upset because one, they didn’t consider her a strong singer, and two, she’s Puerto Rican, not Black.
The criticism also continued after her Feb. 10 performance, and many still believed that others singers should’ve been tapped for the tribute.
Eventually, the legendary Motown singer Smokey Robinson weighed in on the controversy and slammed J.Lo’s critics.
“So now you’re gonna try to diminish the scope of Motown and narrow it down to just music for Black people? And you call yourself defending the image of Motown,” he tweeted on Feb. 12. “Well you’re trying to set us back a hundred years. If you call yourself loving Motown, be happy that we reached so many people and broke down so many racial barriers.”
After she left the Grammy stage, the Bronx native responded to the criticism during a brief interview with “Entertainment Tonight” and began to cry.
“Any type of music can inspire any type of artist,” she explained. “You can’t tell people what to love. You can’t tell people what they can and can’t do, what they should sing or not sing. You gotta do what’s in your heart.”
The 49-year-old singer also said producers and Motown founder Berry Gordy were thrilled that she was doing the tribute.
“They know how much I was inspired by that music. It was a natural for them, but maybe some people didn’t know, that’s OK,” she stated. “I’m just very humbled and honored to have sung those songs.”
Despite Lopez’s explanation, the debate about whether she was the right person to perform the tribute continued.
“She should have sat in the audience and been inspired by an appropriate Motown tribute,” one person wrote. “She can be inspired, but she should have fallen back. This ain’t her lane.”
“It was a beautiful tribute to Motown. I think Smokey said it best,” another person chimed in.
Comedian and actress Amanda Seales posted her thoughts on Instagram and felt Lopez should have declined the request. ” I mean other people are saying it but I feel like I would be remiss not to say it. Jennifer Lopez ma’am, ma’am. We have got to know when to say no ya’ll. We’ve got to know when to say say no. We’ve got to know when to say no, its just the reality of a situation and it takes having a team too and having self awareness to know when its not your place to do a tribute or to do a movie or to play a part on a show…”
“Any type of music can inspire any type of artist… You can’t tell people what to love. You can’t tell people what they can and can’t do — what they should sing or not sing.” An emotional Jennifer Lopez responds to her critics backstage after her #GRAMMYs Motown tribute. pic.twitter.com/1dK3OEs9OH
— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) February 11, 2019