There are three things that go on a headstone when one dies- the date you were born, the date of your passing and a dash in between, according to the District’s ”Mayor-for-life” and current Ward 8 councilman Marion Barry. The dash is the time you spend on this earth and the impact you have. The councilman revealed that the Godfather of go-go once asked himself, “What kind of dash are you going to live?”
Chuck Brown’s home going brought hundreds of residents to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to pay homage to his life and legacy on Thursday, May 31. Many notables were in attendance, including emcee for the ceremony Donnie Simpson, Cliff Jones, Raheem DeVaughn and others.
For such a musical innovator, you wouldn’t expect anything less than superb musical performances at his memorial service. Isaiah Thomas performed Chuck’s “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus” gospel go-go song. Jones sang “Steal Away to Jesus,” followed by Ledisi with a cover of “Wind Beneath My Wings.” The band managed to sneak in a few go-go beats during several of the gospel songs, which got the crowd moving.
One of the most sentimental performances, however, was from Chuck’s brothers. This was the first time they sang together for the first time in three years. The Brown brothers dedicated “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye” to their late brother. This tear-jerking moment brought a hush among the crowd. Another heartfelt moment was when Chuck’s children also came to the stage to say their farewell to their father. His son-in-law recited a rap that he made special for the occasion.
Mayor Vincent Gray, Congresswoman Eleanor H. Norton and Chairman Kwame Brown were also present. These three D.C. heavy-weights wanted to make sure Brown was not remembered just for his upbeat music, but also for his significant role in the community. Mayor Gray proposed a park be dedicated to Brown. Congresswoman Norton proposed that August 22, Chuck’s birthday, be dubbed National Chuck Brown Day and Chairman Brown proposed that a go-go hall of fame be created and named after Chuck.