|Black Music Month| Soul Artist Appreciation: Marvin Gaye


He is considered to be one of the pioneers of Motown. The legendary songwriter/musician/producer, and is one of the greatest singers of all time, Marvin Gaye. Marvin Pentz Gay (Gaye) Jr. was born on April 2, 1939 in Washington D.C. Marvin Gaye sadly perished on earth a day before his birthday April 1, 1984.





Berry Gordy signed Marvin Gaye to Motown Records in 1961, after hearing him play the piano at a Christmas party. While Gaye was trying to build his solo career, he was a session drummer for the label mates such as the Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas, and the Contours. In 1962, he put out a couple of chart topping songs and later on in 1964, Gaye released a duet album with Mary Wells titled Together. His most notable and successful duet however, was with the songstress the late-great Tammi Terrell in the late 60’s. Whom, Gaye recorded countless hits with. After personal tragedies and even though he was creating top charting hits with Motown like “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, he was still struggling with the creative direction his music was going in. In 1971, Gaye released the album What’s Going On, in which he produced by himself. Taking a more stance on social issues, and became groundbreaking hit record.




Marvin Gaye’s Artistry


There is video footage of Marvin Gaye in the What’s Going On documentary of his life, where he is rehearsing his hit single “I Want You”, and it is just raw footage of him rehearsing with his band. Showcasing how natural of a singer he was. So natural, he’s laying down on a sofa singing from the pit of his stomach. If you just close your eyes for a second, without watching the footage you couldn’t tell that he was just laying down singing so effortlessly. That footage summarizes what kind of artist he was. Soulful, creative, innovative, and a musical perfectionist.

It’s funny that at the beginning of his career, he struggled to find his sound. Being inspired by artists like Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, it was easy for him to go with that style of singing, but it’s rightfully to say that through all his struggles and hardships he finally found his voice. He is the perfect embodiment of soul music, pouring his love and pain through the music and conveying it in a way that touched the world. Soul Savviness shows appreciation to Marvin Gaye.