'Godfather Of Go-Go' Celebrates 75th Birthday

August 26, 2011

NPR Staff

Amy Ta
Chuck Brown performs a song at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C., Thursday August 25, 2011.
Amy Ta
Chuck Brown does a music chat with Tell Me More host Michel Martin at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., Thursday August 25, 2011.

If you've visited Washington, D.C. or are from the area, you may have heard its signature musical style: Go-Go.

The "Godfather of Go-Go," Chuck Brown, describes the sound as funk mixed with African and Latin percussions.

Brown will be honored by the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) as part of the "Legends Of Washington Music," a Labor Day concert. The NSO is also paying tribute to other legendary Washington musicians John Philip Sousa and Duke Ellington.

In a conversation with Tell Me More host Michel Martin, Brown says he jumped up and down when he learned about the tribute.

"I really appreciate it. I never dreamed anything like that," he says.

In that same discussion, Steven Reineke, the NSO Principal Pops Conductor, says the diversity of the music featured in the concert ties well together. He and his staff have also commissioned medleys that include Brown's hits "Bustin' Loose" and "Run Joe." Those performances will feature several horns and string instruments.

"These new arrangements are just going to fill out and enhance everything that's already there," says Reineke.

Another Kind of Celebration

Chuck Brown is also continuing to celebrate his 75th birthday, which officially happened on August 22nd. He says turning 75 is a wonderful feeling, especially since he didn't think he'd make it this far.

What helped him get here?

God, his fans, the band and family, he says. Brown adds that his kids have taught him the most of what he has learned in his lifetime.

And he shares this wisdom: "I suggest everybody stay focused. Whatever you're doing — big or small — do it well. That way, everybody can stand tall."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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