Paying a visit to Connecticut River Academy was world renown entertainer and one of the first Motown icons, Smokey Robinson.
The prolific singer-songwriter was invited to celebrate the school’s newly named music wing inside CTRA at Goodwin University.
“It was just room 111 and room 112. That’s what you knew. That was the music room if it even got called that,” said senior Darien Pinto. "And just the fact that we're being dedicated to someone that has changed the game of music is just really exciting."
The music department’s physical location is now called the “Smokey Robinson Music Suite.” Administrators say the name is one that not only honors Robinson’s music talent, but the impact he has had on the world.
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"I grew up in a time where I would go to concerts and white people would be on this side, and Black people would be on that side. Or white people would be upstairs and Black people would be downstairs. Never looking 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 uniter. Music brings people together like nothing else I can think of," Robinson said.
Students said they hope the new name will bring attention and highlight the importance of their high school’s music program. This year, the wing just received new computers as well as new software for students to use, mix and write music.
“We had like really old headphones. They don’t even make the connectors that we had for headphones, so it was time and luckily with the work we’ve been doing, and I think we’ve been trying to make a voice for ourselves, we’ve been recognized,” Bernard said.
It's something music director Jay Bernard has spent the past six years developing.
“When I started coming to school here, the music department wasn't something they really advertised as a focal point for the school,” Pinto said.
But Pinto got involved, honing his craft on the guitar, piano, bass and drums thanks to his music teacher Bernard who, like Pinto, wears several hats as the chorus, music tech 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 in our school, and that's my mission," Pinto said.
Robinson told NBC Connecticut he is coming out with two new albums in a couple months. One is in English and one is in fluent Spanish.