Marvin Gaye’s Daughter: “My Dad Was a Generous Soul”

Marvin Gaye’s daughter says the new stage play, “My Brother Marvin,” which runs through Sunday at the Warner Theatre,” opens old family wounds about her father, who was fatally shot by his father in 1984 in the family’s house in Los Angeles.


Marvin Gaye
(David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“He has been gone 30 years now,” says Nona Gaye, 38, an actress who lives in Rhode Island. “We choose to celebrate his life… I’m not saying something should come out sugar-coated that makes him seem like a perfect human being. I want people to remember my father for his music, not his murder.”

The  play, which is based on a memoir by Zeola Gaye, Marvin’s youngest sister,  depicts the sometimes stormy relationship between Gaye’s mother, Alberta, and his father, Marvin Gaye Sr., captured scenes from Gaye’s rise to musical fame, and recounts events that led to the shooting after an argument. The play stars Emmy-winner Lynn Whitfield, Clifton Powell and Keith Washington.

Zeola Gaye said, in an interview Sunday after the play closed at  Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, she produced the play to help bring closure to her brother’s fans. “I talk about the dynamics between my brother and my father. They need to know why it happened, what caused my father to shoot my brother.”

Nona Gaye, who says she has not seen the play, says she would rather the play not air the family’s business. She’d rather the focus be on her father’s musical genius. “He was a generous soul,” she said. “He was a creative genius. He was my daddy.”

She said she and her brothers “were in awe of him. He took us to the Grammys. When we saw him perform, everyone else was falling all over him. But for us, we  thought, ‘That’s our dad.’ We miss him like every other child misses a parent who was taken too soon.”

 

 

DeNeen L. Brown is an award-winning staff writer at The Washington Post who has covered night police, education, courts, politics and culture.
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