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The Kennedy center concert - Then and Now
“There was a great deal of unrest in America. I sort of saw the country headed for modern-day civil war, and it caused me to take a hard look at society and something happened with me, during that period, and I felt a strong urge to write music and to write lyrics that would touch the souls of man. And in that way, perhaps I felt I could help.”
On May 1st, 1972, Washingtonians called their native son home to pay tribute to him. They declared it “Marvin Gaye Day.” That night, after a four year absence from any live appearances, Marvin Gaye graced the Concert Hall stage at the Kennedy Center to perform his seminal album, What’s Going On—an album of remarkable musicianship and powerful social consciousness. It was a bold move. Gaye’s album was a rallying cry; he wanted to lift up the nation and give people reasons for hope and understanding by cutting across races, religions, generations, and attitudes.
To mark the 40th anniversary of this iconic work and its performance in Washington, the Kennedy Center reimagined the concert with Grammy Award®-winning singer John Legend, the National Symphony Orchestra, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and many special guests—including young poets from around the country.
“You can listen to What’s Going On right now” observes John Legend. “The subject matter’s poignant. You can apply everything he’s saying about the Vietnam War to the war in Iraq, and the music still sounds hot. You know, it’s still important, urgent music.”
Want to see how the concert turned out? Check out the National Symphony Orchestra's tumblr for images from the show.