Memorial Service Celebrates Life of Chuck Brown

Flags in the city flying at half-staff

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Those who knew him best, his family, honored the memory of Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown. (Published Thursday, May 31, 2012)

    Flags in the city are flying at half-staff Thursday, the day Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown was remembered during a public memorial service.

    The service lasted for nearly four hours at the Washington Convention Center and featured many musicians, celebrities and politicians from D.C. and beyond.

    "If Chuck Recognized You, That Meant You Was Cool"

    [DC] "If Chuck Recognized You, That Meant You Was Cool"
    Music promoter and road manager Darryl Brooks recalls life on the road and in the D.C. area with Chuck Brown. (Published Thursday, May 31, 2012)

    D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who called Brown a "personal friend of mine," spoke at the memorial service and offered up a preview of what he was going to do in the go-go legend's honor in a few days.

    "I'm going to send over a piece of legislation to the council to name a park in the District of Columbia for Chuck Brown," Gray said to a raucous applause.

    "It will be a place just like Chuck," Gray continued. "A place where there's action. A place where there's people. A place where there's traffic. A place where there will be the sounds of the city. A place where we can look forward to bustin' loose. ... And we know it will be a place where Woody Woodpecker can find a home. And, of course, it will be a place where it don't mean a thing if you don't got that go-go swing."

    Gray then led the audience in a chorus of "Wind Me Up, Chuck!"

    D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton took the stage with voting rights on her mind, saying that Brown stood for that cause by playing at the Capitol.

    She also talked about Brown's legacy.

    "This is a town, my friends, with dancing in its DNA," she said. "So Chuck gave us a hometown sound that won't let you stay in your seat and won't let you sit down once you get up."

    Norton said that she brought with her a plaque of the resolution she offered on the House floor expressing her support for designation of Aug. 22 as National Chuck Brown Day across the country.

    "I don't know when I'll get a vote on the House floor on this resolution, but there is every reason for Chuck's hometown to start first," she said, "to commemorate the Godfather's birthday on Aug. 22 and every Aug. 22 to send the message year after year that as long as there is a District of Columbia, there will always be a Chuck Brown party in the nation."

    D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown had certain words for D.C. newcomers.

    "For all the people who just moved to the District of Columbia who have a problem with go-go music, get over it," Kwame Brown said. "When you talk about go-go, just don't talk about Chuck Brown. Chuck Brown is go-go, and go-go is Washington, D.C., and there is nothing wrong with go-go."

    Kwame Brown then continued the political goodwill toward the Godfather of Go-Go.

    "We got a park, we got a day, I think it's only fitting and right that we do all we can to create a go-go hall of fame," Kwame Brown said. "Chuck Brown wasn't just about Chuck Brown, he was about all the go-go music and all the young folks. ... There should be a building at the park where we can put the go-go hall of fame."

    Council member Marion Barry talked about the inspiration Brown was for so many.

    "Chuck Brown was about teaching people and reaching people, letting them know that they could be anything that they wanted to be," he said.

    It was as much of a celebration as a memorial service could be, with performances blending go-go and gospel and bringing people to their dancing feet.

    "One thing that he didn't want you doing was crying," said his daughter, KK Brown, surrounded by family. "Like people say I'm strong, it's just only God. That's the reason why I can stand up here without breaking down, but I miss my father. I love you all for loving my father. You all called him 'Chuck, baby,' but we Chuck's babies."

    DJ Donnie Simpson hosted the service.

    Some of those attending included Gray, Norton, Kwame Brown, Marion Barry, other District officials, Dr. Michael A. Freeman (Eulogy, Spirit of Faith Church), Doug E. Fresh, Mike Epps (video below), Ledisi, Kindred the Family Soul, Tom Joyner, Raheem DeVaughn, Sugar Bear, Omarosa, Cliff Jones, Tye Tribbett, Big G, Huggy Lowdown, Chris Paul, Rock Newman and The Chuck Brown Band.

    On Tuesday, Brown's casket was brought into

    Howard Theatre for a public viewing

    . Fans started lining up in the heat and humidity before 7:30 a.m. for their chance to say goodbye to the go-go music legend. 

    "It's a sad occasion, but then again it's not," said one fan in line Tuesday. "It's the celebration of life. I'm here to say thank you to the family for sharing him with us and thanks to Chuck for the many years of go-go."

    Brown died May 16 at age 75. His daughter Cherita Whiting told NBC Washington he died from complications from pneumonia. 


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