John Legend on Marvin Gaye Tribute: 'I'll Do the Best I Can'
Teamed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Legend will perform live Gaye's entire 1971 album What's Going On, from Los Angeles’s iconic Hollywood Bowl. Here, Legend answers our interview questions about this momentous show.
YAHOO MUSIC: How were you introduced to Marvin Gaye?
JOHN LEGEND: My father came of age in Ohio in the '60s and '70s, just a few hours from Detroit. He and his siblings were huge Motown fans. From the Temptations to Stevie Wonder to Smokey Robinson to Diana Ross to Marvin Gaye, this was the signature music of my dad's youth. And he passed that love for Motown down to our generation. I've always seen Marvin Gaye as one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music. His music has been hugely influential in shaping my style as a singer and songwriter.
What is the significance of his What’s Going On album for you?
What's Going On was an artistic masterpiece. It was beautifully performed and arranged by Marvin and his collaborators. It had a strong sense of cohesion and clarity in its vision. And it was such a bold choice for an artist known primarily for his sweet love songs to make such provocative album with such a strong political message. But what made it so great was that it didn't come off too preachy. He was able to make this "message" record that was still sensual and beautiful. It was still love music.
What made you choose this album to perform?
What's Going On
I was originally contacted a couple years ago by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Marvin having performed the album live at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra. I was honored to perform Marvin's vocals then, as we recreated this iconic moment. It was such a wonderful experience that we had to figure out a way to do it again. This time, we're bringing the performance to the West Coast, to L.A.'s iconic Hollywood Bowl.