Cracker Barrel to Market Smokey Robinson CD


For the first time, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s exclusive music program will feature an R&B artist: Smokey Robinson. Now and Then, a 12-song CD featuring classics and new songs by the Motown legend, will go on sale Nov. 1 and be available only at Cracker Barrel.

In addition to signaling the music program’s expansion beyond country and bluegrass, the move could mark a turning point in Cracker Barrel’s sometimes checkered relationship with the African-American community.

Following complaints that black patrons were seated in areas segregated from white customers and frequently received inferior service, the company settled a discrimination suit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2004. Several months later, it was reported that the Lebanon, Tenn.-headquartered restaurant company had agreed to an $8.7 million settlement to resolve all racial discrimination lawsuits brought or supported by the NAACP.

“It’s time to change that imagery of Cracker Barrel,” Robinson said of his decision to partner with the restaurant chain. “I’m very happy to be the one breaking that ground with them. It’s progress.”

“Country and bluegrass are an important part of our music program, but it’s not the only part,” Cracker Barrel vp of marketing Peter Keiser added. “We have a broad customer base, and we want our music program to reflect that. What better way to diversify and reach that base than with Smokey Robinson? He is one of the best-loved figures in the history of popular music. His music and the Motown era were a great influence on our culture and helped shape who we are today.”

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