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Chuck Brown Memorial Service Features Music, Proposal For National Day

10:38 PM, May 31, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- A crowd of people poured into the Washington Convention Center starting at 10 a.m. to say good bye to Chuck Brown, the man behind the DC sound of Go-Go music. Brown who died on May 16 at age 75.

Before the memorial service at noon, a slideshow was shown over music. Brown's family was seated for the service and then DC radio personality Donnie Simpson was introduced. At the microphone, Simpson said, "One of the reasons I loved Chuck was because Chuck was always about DC...always." The audience erupted into applause.

Then go-go music was played and the people onstage, including Simpson and DC Mayor Vincent Gray, danced. The dancing was followed by more words from Simpson, more music and then prayer from the Rev. Tony Lee.

After more music, Gray took went to the microphone to report that "more than 13,000 people went to the Howard Theatre to say how much we love Chuck Brown."  

Gray took a moment to reflect on his memories of Brown: "He was a man who knew how to put on a concert...and he was one of the most humble people I've ever met in this entire city." 

The mayor said a few more words about how much the go-go legend meant to the city before leading a chant of "Wind me up, Chuck!"

Mayor Gray also announced he will send legislation to name a park in D.C. after Chuck Brown.

Next, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton spoke. She has announced that she has proposed August 22 to be declared National Chuck Brown Day. That date is the musician's birthday.

DC City Council Chairman Kwame Brown made a passionate statement about Chuck Brown and go-go saying, "Chuck Brown is go-go...and there's nothing wrong with go-go..." Brown also said that he wants a go-go hall of fame. He was joined onstage by fellow council members, with Marion Barry receiving a huge round of applause.

During a performance by Ledisi of "Wind Beneath My Wings" family members came up to stand by Brown's casket. Ledisi said before her performance that the last time she had spoken to Brown he had talked about how proud he was of his family.

DC Council Member Marion Barry later came to the stage and said that he had been friends with Brown for 40 years. He led the crowd with words of love and support for the Brown family, asking them to point at the family and say, "I love you, Brown family." Then, he spoke about Chuck Brown the man, stating that Brown "wasn't born with a silver spoon" in his mouth, but didn't let his situation bring him down. Barry said that Brown was a strong example of what you can do if you work hard and refuse to give up. 

Willie Jolley also gave a lively statement about Brown, saying that three things drove the musician: "Faith, family, and friends." Jolley said the entertainer loved his family but also his extended family, his fans. Jolley said that Brown, went from a convict to an icon, and  changed his life "so that we could be the better."

More music followed to lift the mood inside the center before a highlight featuring Chuck Brown was played.

Donnie Simpson introduced Mike Epps, who told the crowd he wanted everyone to remember that Chuck Brown loved people all over the world.

Chuck's daughter Takesa said, "Daddy I love you...every word you ever said to me is embedded in my soul and heart. " She reminded the crowd of mourners that the one thing Chuck Brown "would not want us to do is cry."

His son Wiley said he always called Chuck 'Daddy' even as a grown man "and there was never a day that went by that he didn't tell us he loved us. There was always a kiss, no matter who was around... Thank you all for being  here today and please continue to live the way my father would want you to and that is without worries....We couldn't ask for a better homegoing for my father."

His son Nekos said, "Chuck was a big man of God. Every show he did, he would close out by saying God love you and to keep God first in everything you do."

His son Bill told the crowd that "The one thing I learned from my father was to put your heart into everything you do....what I carry with me the rest of my life, my father preached, to do it well or don't do it at all."

Chuck's grandson offered a personal rhyme that ended "Chuck Brown, you the man." His daughter reminded his fans to behave as Chuck Brown would. "Before you leave here today be sure to hug somebody. Hug somebody you love today."

A tearful Donnie Simpson said that the last thing he heard from Chuck Brown were the words "I love you, brother," and choked up when he said he would never again hear 'that gravelly voice  on the phone saying, 'This is Chuck.' "

The Reverend Michael A. Freeman said God has provided "a place for Chuck Brown where the streets are paved with gold," and called Chuck Brown a "child of God."

Donnie Simpson closed the service by reminding the crowd of Chuck Brown's roots, the Go-go music community, and invited the Chuck Brown band, including Sugar Bear, to the stage. They began with the theme from "The Godfather (Speak Softly Love," performed with a Go-go beat, then swung into a Go-go medley that included Chuck Brown's signature hit "Bustin' Loose."

His daughter chimed in with a call and response "We Love You Chuck!"

In thanking the crowd, Donnie Simpson iintroduced Rev. Michael A. Freeman for a benediction. Freeman asked the crowd to hug somebody in the honor and memory of Chuck Brown.

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