During a visit to Connecticut River Academy, world-renowned entertainer and one of Motown’s early icons, Smokey Robinson.
The prolific singer-songwriter was invited to celebrate the school’s newly named music wing within Goodwin University’s CTRA.
“It was just room 111 and room 112. That’s what you knew.” It was the music room if it was even called that,” said senior Darien Pinto. “And just the fact that we’re dedicated to someone who changed the game of music is really exciting.”
The physical location of the music department is now called “Smokey Robinson Music Suite”. Trustees say the name is one that not only honors Robinson’s musical talent, but also the impact he had on the world.
“I grew up in a time when I went to concerts and white people were on this side, and black people were on the other side. Or white people were upstairs and black people were downstairs. Never look at each other, said Robinson.
His music blurred those lines and desegregated society on the dance floor.
“Music is the international language. Music is the unifier. Music brings people together like nothing else I can think of,” Robinson said.
The students said they hoped the new name would attract attention and emphasize the importance of their high school’s music program. This year, the wing has just received new computers as well as new software allowing students to use, mix and write music.
“We had very old headphones. They don’t even make the connectors that we had for the headphones, so it was about time and luckily with the work that we did, and I think we tried to be heard, we got recognition,” Bernard said. .
It’s something that musical director Jay Bernard has spent the past six years developing.
“When I first started coming to school here, the music department wasn’t really advertised as a focal point for the school,” Pinto said.
But Pinto got involved, honing his craft on guitar, piano, bass and drums thanks to his music teacher Bernard who, like Pinto, wears many hats as a backing vocalist, music technician and guitar teacher. .
“Music in general is really just this amazing phenomenon that really brings all cultures and people together and that’s exactly what it’s going to do at our school, and that’s my mission,” Pinto said.
Robinson told NBC Connecticut that he was releasing two new albums in a few months. One is in English and the other in fluent Spanish.