Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.
(Image found online. Original source unknown.)
Yesterday marked what would have been Marvin Gaye’s 84th birthday. Motown’s “Prince Of Soul” was born April 2, 1939 in Washington, D.C. His voice was one of the strongest, one of the most recognizeable, one of the most powerful & one of the most beautiful to come out of the Motor City. He was also a musician, a songwriter and a producer.
He started with the Motown label in 1960 and by 1962 he had his first hit, “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow”. He spent the next 20 years of his career at the label, and despite incredible highs with hit songs like “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, duets with Tammi Terrell and seminal albums like “What’s Going On”, Gaye also experienced incredible lows including the end of his first marriage, the death of Terrell and struggles with depression and addiction. He left Motown for CBS Records in 1982.
That same year Gaye enjoyed a career resurgence with the release of Midnight Love. The lead single, “Sexual Healing”, hit #3 by January 1983. It won him the first Grammy Award of his career, Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male (the instrumental version earned him Grammy #2 the same year). But it was what he did next that gave him another career defining moment that is still revered and celebrated 40 years later.
On February 13th, 1983, the NBA’s best gathered at the Los Angeles arena for the 33rd All-Star Game between Eastern and Western Conferences. Gaye was chosen to sing the National Anthem and went on to make history with his suave, soulful and utterly sensational interpretation of the song. The Star Spangled Banner would never sound the same from that point on. It was like watching what Ray Charles did for “America The Beautiful” all over again.
Marvin Gaye at the 1983 NBA All Star Game. (Image found online. Original source unknown.)
I miss this man every single day. I fell in love with his voice before I knew what soul music was but I knew Gaye’s voice was the definition of it, even when I was a young child. He was just that good, just that talented and just that powerful. And every time I hear one of his songs, I remember the first time I heard his voice all over again. But his legacy is best summed up on his website: “His greatness rests in his genius for transforming spiritual energy into songs that both inspire and delight.” Amen.
Gaye circa 1982. (Image found online. Original source unknown.)
Marvin Gaye: “National Anthem” (1983, Live at the NBA All Star Game, lyrics by Francis Scott Key and music by John Stafford Smith).
Marving Gaye: “That’s The Way Love Is” (1969, written by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield).
Stay safe & well.