WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Music legend Smokey Robinson says any of the students he visited at Duke Ellington School for the Arts could follow in his steps because they are starting out as he did: with a love for doing something creative.

The 72-year-old Motown artist visited the students on Friday, the day before he was to perform a benefit concert at the Kennedy Center.

Robinson lamented the budget cuts that have caused the loss of school arts programs. He performed in various bands in his teens and helped form the Motown label just after high school. He went on to make the hits “Cruisin'” and “Tracks of My Tears,” among many others.

Robinson first landed atop the R&B charts when he was featured as Bill “Smokey” Robinson on “Shop Around” by the Miracles. Two years later, now credited as the front man of the group, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles again topped the R&B charts with “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me.”

Robinson says he is now working on a Christmas song and will do a song in Spanish.

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