President George W. Bush had a lot of screw-ups during his eight-year term, but he did do a couple things right. One of them was proclaiming June as Black Music Month on May 31, 2002. June is here,* and to celebrate Black Music Month, I'll be featuring one of my favorite artists each day, sharing my first or most personal memory of them, and explain what their accomplishments are and why I felt they should make the Black Music Month Top 30 list. There will be some oldies, some newbies and some artists you may not know of yet.
Black Music Month Heat Factor "Why's this artist hot?": Music fans probably thought the news of Marvin Gaye's murder on April 1, 1984 was the cruelest joke ever until it was confirmed. I was only two years old when he died, but he'd already left his mark. I was sad to hear about his death so I can just imagine how his fans felt who grew up listening to his music. He is your favorite R&B new school artist's favorite artist, in addition to some of the older artists who watched his music and audience grow. He's worked with R&B singing legends and producers like Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Otis Williams of The Temptations, Eddie Holland Jr., Clarence Paul, The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, Diana Ross and Tammi Terrell. Even hip-hop artists like Mary J. Blige and Method Man paid homage to Marvin Gaye by doing an R&B and hip-hop collabo song "You're All I Need."
First Memory, Most Personal Memory of the Artist: I can thank my parents for putting me on to Marvin Gaye because as long as I can remember, both of them would be dancing around to his music. I used to sit in my father's dining room chair, put on headphones that were entirely too big for my head and listen to lyrics that were sometimes too mature for me to comprehend. But I knew what talented R&B music was as soon as I heard his voice, and it stuck. From my kindergarten days on, every R&B artist I heard was always measured by how Marvin Gaye sang. In my Girl Scout Days, one of my scout friends and I would always debate whether "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" was about the guy leaving the family a loan or alone. When I bought and watched him perform on "The Real Thing" DVD, I was in awe. So many artists have tried to copy his style, but nobody quite cuts it the way Marvin Gaye does.
Accomplishments from the Artist: He started appearing on the Billboard charts in 1962 with "Stubborn Kind of Fellow," which made its way to number 8 on the R&B and Top 50 pop charts. "Hitch Hike" hit the Top 30 pop charts in 1963, and "Pride and Joy" went all the way to number 2 on the R&B charts. Other hit singles to grace the charts included collaborations with Tammi Terrell, such as "You're a Wonderful One," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Your Precious Love," "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "You're All I Need to Get By." In the 1960s, he had 28 songs on the Billboard charts and made a hit song a bigger hit by releasing his version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" after Gladys Knight and the Pips' chart-topping song with the same name. "What's Going On?" album was number 1 on Billboard's black album charts and number 6 on the pop charts, and of course the bed-rocking favorite "Let's Get It On" topped the list for 11 weeks. The 1985 "Dream of a Lifetime" stayed on the charts for 20 weeks. In 1991, "20th Century Masters — The Millennium Collection: The Best of Marvin Gaye, Vol. 2" was on the Billboard charts for 16 weeks.
* This entry was originally published on Associated Content in June of 2010. It has been republished with permission from Shamontiel. To find out who the other 29 artists were who were selected in 2010, visit this Pinterest board.
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