Marvin Gaye’s Spiritual Side

When you think of Marvin Gaye “spiritual” is probably not the adjective that first comes to mind. However, this minister’s son allows his spirituality to shine through some of his music.

Gaye was born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. on April 2, 1939, at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., to church minister Marvin Gay Sr., and domestic worker Alberta Gay (née Cooper). His first home was in a public housing project, the Fairfax Apartments (now demolished).  The neighborhood was primarily a vast slum. Most buildings were small, in extensive disrepair, and lacked both electricity and running water. The alleys were full of one- and two-story shacks, and nearly every dwelling was overcrowded.

Gaye started singing in church when he was four years old; his father often accompanied him on piano. Gaye signed with Tamla, and pursued a career as a performer of jazz music and standards. He had no desire to become an R&B performer.

Before the release of his first single, Gaye was teased about his surname, with some jokingly asking, “Is Marvin Gay?” Gaye changed
the spelling of his surname by adding an e, in the same way as did Sam Cooke

Marvin Gaye released his debut single “Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide May 1961. It was the first release off Gaye’s debut album, The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye.

What’s Going On

Marvin Gaye released the concept album What’s Going On  in 1971.

He tells the story from the point of view of a Vietnam veteran returning to the country he had been fighting for. Sadly he sees only hatred, suffering, and injustice upon his return. Gaye’s introspective lyrics discuss themes of drug abuse, poverty, and the Vietnam War.

The album was ranked number six both on Rolling Stones 2003 list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time“. In addition, he has been credited with promoting awareness of global warming before the public outcry against it had become prominent.

“God Is Love” is the B–side to the single “What’s Going On”.

Inspiration From The Great Wide Open

My “This Day in History” podcast just reminded me that  one year ago we lost Tom Petty. Specifically, Petty died on October 2, 2017, one week after the completion of the Heartbreakers’ 40th anniversary tour.

Thomas Earl Petty (October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017) was an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor.

Petty recorded a number of hit singles with the Heartbreakers and as a solo artist. He sold more than 80 million records worldwide. Therefore making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. 

I became a Tom Petty fan a bit later than many. He released eight albums with the Heartbreakers between 1976–1991. I purchased his Greatest Hits album in 1993.


Amanda’s au pair Annika gave me the CD Wildflowers for my birthday in 1994.

Wildflowers is the second solo studio album by Tom Petty, released on November 1, 1994. Furthermore The Recording Industry Association of America certified the album 3x platinum in the United States.

A fan posted this video of Tom Petty’s last performance of Wildflowers 9.25.17 at Hollywood Bowl.


Gospel Music Country Style–Part 2

Photo by Mississippi Snopes on / CC BY-NC

Today we continue continue celebrating gospel music by country artists. This week’s post features music by three popular female singers.

Dolly Parton–He’s everything

Dolly Rebecca Parton (born 1/19/1946) is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, actress, author, businesswoman, and philanthropist. She is known primarily for her work in country music. Dolly began her career as a songwriter for others in the 1960s. She made her singing debut in 1967, with her album Hello, I’m Dolly.

She remained successful throughout the remainder of the 1960s. In addition to her career as a solo artist she also had a series of duet albums with Porter Wagoner. Her sales and chart peak came during the 1970s and continued into the 1980s. Parton’s subsequent albums in the later part of the 1990s were lower in sales. However, in the new millennium, Parton achieved commercial success again and has released albums on independent labels since 2000, including albums on her own label, Dolly Records.

Parton is the most honored female country performer of all time. Achieving 25 Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified Gold, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum awards. She has

  • 25 songs reach No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts, a record for a female artist (tied with Reba McEntire).
  • 41 career top-10 country albums, a record for any artist.
  • 110 career charted singles over the past 40 years.
  • 47 Grammy nominations.
  • Nine Grammy Awards.
  • Two Academy Award nominations.
  • Ten Country Music Association Awards.
  • Seven Academy of Country Music Awards.
  • Three American Music Awards.

Dolly is one of seven female artists to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award. In 1999, Parton was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She has composed over 3,000 songs.

She composed “He’s Everything” for the 2012 musical Joyful Noise

Reba McEntire – Softly And Tenderly

Reba Nell McEntire (born March 28, 1955) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer. While a sophomore in college, she performed the National Anthem at the National Rodeo

By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0,

in Oklahoma City. Country artist Red Steagall, impressed by her performance, brought her to Nashville, Tennessee.

Often referred to as “The Queen of Country”, she is one of the best-selling artists of all time. Total sales exceed 95 million records worldwide. McEntire has

  • released 29 studio albums,
  • acquired 42 number one singles,
  • 16 number one albums, and
  • 28 albums have been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America

Softly and Tenderly” is a Christian hymn. It was composed and written by Will L. Thompson in 1880.

Thompson was a member of the Churches of Christ, where several of his hymns and gospel songs continue in use. “Softly and Tenderly” is the most widely known of his compositions. It is among the most prolifically translated gospel songs.

Martina McBride – Anyway

Martina Mariea McBride (born July 29, 1966) is an American country music singer-songwriter and record producer. She is known for her soprano singing range and her country pop material.

McBride has recorded a total of 13 studio albums, two greatest hits compilations, one “live” album, as well as two additional compilation albums. The RIAA gave eight of her studio albums and two compilations Gold certification, or higher.

In the U.S., she has sold over 14 million albums. In addition, McBride has won the Country Music Association‘s “Female Vocalist of the Year” award four times. (tied with Reba McEntire for the second-most wins). and the Academy of Country Music‘s “Top Female Vocalist. She is also a 14-time Grammy Award nominee.

“Anyway” is a song co-written and recorded by American country music artist Martina McBride. She released the song in November 2006 following a performance on the 2006 CMA Awards. It served as the lead-off single from her album Waking Up Laughing. McBride wrote the song with The Warren Brothers.

Music with a dash of trivia