Chuck Brown, the Last Informer Interview
Karisse Carmack | , Special to Informer | 5/31/2012, 4:04 p.m.
The experience taught Brown a very valuable lesson. When performing, "you don't play for yourself; you play for your fans," he said.
Brown's tastes in music did not exist in a vacuum. Growing up, Brown's mother was a source of musical inspiration, and people predicted that he would one day be successful.
"My mom, she out-sang everybody in the family," Brown said. "I played the piano in church. Before that, I was wild, running around."
Outside of his family, Brown said his favorite is musician is blues guitarist Bobby Parker.
"I don't think he got the credit," Brown said. Parker was the "greatest blues player" and Brown said he admired Parker's stage presence. "He makes you feel down to your very soul," Brown said.
At eight or nine years old, Brown also shined shoes for the popular musicians who performed at local venues. As a young man, he later had brushes with law, and spent time in prison.
"I didn't get serious about music until I was 24," Brown said.
To this day, Brown said he listens to young people, which he credits as one of the reasons why he has enjoyed longevity in the music business. His daughter, KK, even performs with him on stage.
"She listens to her daddy, and I listen to her. When you don't listen to young people, you give up," Brown said. The elder Brown considers his family among his proudest achievements.
"I ain't been to jail in over 50 years. I got my high school diploma [during my incarceration], I got some skills. I have four beautiful children," Brown said. He and his wife have been married for 27 years, "with over 50 years of togetherness," and have six grandchildren, ranging from six months to 11 years old.
Like others who are at the peak of their careers, the husband, father, and grandfather does have his share of regrets.
"When I was boxing, I wish I had become a world champion, but that didn't work out," Brown said. Though he never boxed professionally, Brown said he was "inspired" by the sport; he began boxing at the age of 10 and continued until he was 30 or 34, he said There were times when Brown also turned down opportunities due to his personal convictions.
"I was given an opportunity to play on a [military] base. I told them to bring them [the troops] home, then I'll perform," Brown said. "I'm not going to Iraq," Brown said, calling the conflict an "ignorant war."
Local residents also praise Brown's music and career.
In the future, Brown said his next album will have some gospel tunes. He said that he also wants to open a homeless shelter for children, families, and the elderly. The music legend said that he was once homeless, and that he makes an effort to visit the homeless shelters.
Brown also has advice for aspiring musicians: work hard at your craft, protect your image, and be there for your family.
"Whatever you do, be it big or small, do it well or not at all, and that comes from not giving up," he said.
Brown also stressed the importance of having a clean public image, and to avoid compromising positions that can be leaked on the Internet, which can end up embarrassing your loved ones.
"Do whatever is necessary to keep your family together. If you don't have one, get one," he said.
With go-go now spanning more than three decades, Brown sees a bright future for the genre.
"It ain't going nowhere. If it fades out anywhere else, it's still gonna be" popular in D.C., Brown said.