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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Happy 75th, Marvin Gaye

Maimouna Youssef made the crowd want to holler
For the 7th year in a row on his birth date, DC fans of Washington native soul singer Marvin Gaye packed the rooftop bar of the restaurant off U Street that bears his name to celebrate his legacy by listening to his music and hearing words from some of those who knew him well.

Gaye was born in DC on April 2, 1939 and attended Cardozo High School before finding fame as one of the giant stars of Motown. He was tragically shot dead by his father on April 1, 1984. Had he lived, today would have been his 75th birthday.

In a fitting tribute, all the proceeds from the benefit bash at Marvin's went to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a charity chosen by the Gaye family.

Throughout the late afternoon and evening, musicians and singers from all over the DC-area performed hits made famous by Gaye. Those performers included Gaye's musical director Gordon "Guitar" Banks and members of his old band the Marquees.

After a particularly stirring version of Gaye's "Makes Me Want to Holler" by Maimouna Youssef and John Bibb, Cecil Jenkins, who described himself "as the last protege of Marvin Gaye" took the microphone.

"I think it is a wonderful thing you are doing by embracing Marvin Gaye and what he stood for," Jenkins, who was Gaye's lead dancer said. "Thank you DC for remembering Marvin."

As did a handful of the others in the crowd who knew or worked with Marvin, Jenkins shared a few memories of the man he called his surrogate father.

"You remember the dance the rock?" he asked "Michael Jackson made it famous, but you should have seen Marvin do the rock."

Unfortunately, a gun fired by Gaye's own father 30 years ago made certain that no one would ever see that  again.

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