She is a singer-songwriter and producer born Claudette
Marie Rogers in New Orleans, Louisiana, who was dubbed “The First
Lady of Motown” by Berry Gordy as she was the first woman to be
signed to the record label.
In the mid-50s her brother was in The Matadors with
the singer Smokey Robinson but in 1957 he had to take his military
service. This led to her
stepping in to take his place and after appearing with The Matadors for a
time it was decided to change their name to The Miracles when they got a
recording contract as it would not sound so much like it was an all-male
After having worked with them for 2 years she and
Smokey Robinson got married and during their early years at Motown, Smokey
co-wrote The Temptations’ hit record “My Girl” and
dedicated it to her. Appearing
on their early hit records she can be heard on songs such as “Tracks
of My Tears”, “Going to a Go-Go”, “Ooo Baby
Baby” and “You Really Got a Hold On Me”.
She gave up touring after a while as the gruelling
schedule was a contributing factor to her miscarrying on seven occasions
during a time when she and her husband were trying to start a family. She did still appear in the studio
with The Miracles though until 1972 and over time she
and Smokey had two children which they named Berry, after Berry Gordy, and
Tamla, after Tamla Motown.
In 1986 she and Smokey went their own separate ways
after nearly three decades of marriage and although he is now a successful
solo artist, she continues to make occasional appearances with the current
line-up of The Miracles and co-produced the 1994 Smokey Robinson 35th
Her songwriting saw her co-composing the song
“Everyday I’ll Love You More Than Yesterday” with her
husband, which was recorded by The Supremes.
Today she is on the board of the Rhythm & Blues
Foundation, has a scheduled star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as a member
of The Miracles and has written A Miraculous Life, which is her
autobiography of the years with the group.