Chuck Brown: The 'Godfather Of Go-Go' At 75

Chuck Brown performs at NPR. i i

hide captionChuck Brown performs at NPR.

Amy Ta/NPR
Chuck Brown performs at NPR.

Chuck Brown performs at NPR.

Amy Ta/NPR

Go-Go Swing

1 min 5 sec
 

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 percussion.

Brown will be honored by the National Symphony Orchestra 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," he says. "I never dreamed anything like that."

Steven Reineke, the NSO's principal pops conductor, says the diversity of the music featured in the concert mixes together well. He and his staff have commissioned medleys that include Brown's hits "Bustin' Loose" and "Run Joe." Those performances will feature horns and string instruments.

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

Chuck Brown at NPR headquarters. i i

hide captionChuck Brown at NPR headquarters.

Amy Ta/NPR
Chuck Brown at NPR headquarters.

Chuck Brown at NPR headquarters.

Amy Ta/NPR

Brown is also continuing to celebrate his 75th birthday, which officially happened on Aug. 22. He says turning 75 brings with it wonderful feelings, especially since he didn't think he'd make it this far.

What helped him get there? Brown credits God, his fans, the band and his family, adding that his kids have taught him the most of what he's learned in his lifetime.

"I suggest everybody stay focused," Brown says. "Whatever you're doing — big or small — do it well. That way, everybody can stand tall."

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