Chuck Brown [“ ‘The Godfather of Go-Go,’ ” front page, May 17] is the only musician I can identify, other than bluegrass legend Bill Monroe, who devised a truly distinctive form of American regional music in the 20th century. Mr. Brown created go-go out of funk, Latin and Caribbean rhythms, disco and West African performance practices — most notably call and response — in the 1970s. He matters so much in Washington, especially to African Americans, because he not only created a unique musical sound that defined local black popular culture but also pounded out a pulsating rhythm you could point to and proudly state: “That is D.C.” For thousands of locals, that is just as important as the White House and the Washington Monument.
His fans paid homage to him, like a venerated elder in African culture, every time he came on stage with seemingly endless shouts of “Wind me up, Chuck.” We won’t be able to do this any longer, but Chuck Brown’s essence — his life spirit and music — will resonate for decades to come.
Kip Lornell, Silver Spring
What made Chuck Brown even more incredible is that his creation, go-go music, built an underground economy that generated millions of dollars during bleak times for our city. The blueprint he created produced income for hundreds of musicians, promoters, sound technicians, graphic designers and security guards. Aside from Ben’s Chili Bowl, go-go was about the only thing that brought night life to now-rejuvenated U Street NW after the riots. Go-go could survive anywhere.
Mr. Brown was also a spokesman for those who needed a second chance in life. He came back from prison and personal struggles to teach ordinary people that failure should not be an option. He inspired fans to get clean and go back and counsel others. It would also motivate me and many other formerly incarcerated “returned citizens” to learn from our mistakes and return to our community to be of some value.
At a time when many Washingtonians are again going through hard times, I encourage everyone to pick up their own tools and gifts the way Chuck Brown did. We each have a gift like Chuck did. He used his to leave permanent footprints on this earth, because the beat he created will never stop.
Ron Moten, Washington