Chuck Brown, the Last Informer Interview
Karisse Carmack | , Special to Informer | 5/31/2012, 4:04 p.m.
I first met Chuck Brown in late October 2010, to interview him for a feature story in the Informer. As I waited for Brown and his manager to show up at Tryst Coffeehouse in Adams Morgan, I was still surprised my editor had asked me to do the story several days before. Brown had just released an album featuring Jill Scott, among other guest artists. Like many local residents, I grew up listening to his music and saw Brown in local commercials.
Brown arrived in his trademark hat, shades, and a suit was a total gentleman. He had no airs, and graciously answered my question, smiling and laughing often. I walked away impassioned by Brown's appreciation for local residents and their love of his music. Fans approached him during our interview and he respectfully paused each time to shake hands, give hugs, sign autographs, and pose for camera-phone pictures. He loved his fans, and his fans loved him.
I am honored to have had the opportunity to meet and interview Chuck Brown and present portions of that interview for your reading here.
Go-Go pioneer Chuck Brown is in the prime of his life: a music career that spans more than three decades and counting, the admiration and respect of local residents, and a new album that recently received a Grammy Award nomination. Not bad for a man who once shined shoes for entertainers as a child and later had run-ins with the law.
Dressed in black from head to toe with his signature hat and gold-rimmed shades during a recent interview at Tryst Coffeehouse in Northwest, Brown smiled easily and spoke in a low, deep voice. Brown, 74, said he was grateful to still be around performing. "D.C. to me has been so great; my greatest inspiration has been this city," Brown said.
Brown's newest album, "We Got This," is a three-disc set featuring an album recorded in the studio, a live album, and a DVD of a live concert performance.
For "We Got This," Brown collaborated with artists who included R&B singers Jill Scott and Ledisi, and Jazz musician Marcus Miller. "Love," the new album's single that features Scott and Miller, was nominated earlier this month for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, by The Recording Academy.
Go-Go, the genre Brown helped create, is a blend of funk, Latin percussion, and R&B. While the genre's popularity remains strong, Brown said he had a difficult time trying to convince fellow musicians about the legitimacy of his musical creation.
"I had no idea it would just be [me] creating something that people like," Brown said.
"I had to change three or four drummers," he said, in reference to the direction in which he wanted to take his music.
During the 1970s, Brown said that he was performing in a club when he started to try some of the beats that would eventually be associated with the go-go genre. His drummer disliked the beat, but Brown said it didn't matter: when he looked out on the floor, he saw the audience grooving to the beat.