The soulful sound of Marvin Gaye’s voice is familiar to almost everyone, but what is largely unknown about this Motown legend is the years of struggle behind the music.
In 1939, Gaye was born in Washington D.C. into a poor family that lived in low-income housing with no electricity or running water. His father was a pastor at a local church, and Gaye began to sing at the Sunday service at age four. Despite his career path, Gaye’s father heavily abused him well into his teen years. Gaye later said that if his mother hadn’t been there to console him and encourage him to pursue music he would’ve killed himself.
Marvin Gaye found success after co-writing a Marvelette’s hit single under Motown Records. He made his way to the Billboard Hot 100 charts numerous times following; his first song to hit number one being “I Heard It Through The Grape Vine.” The 1960s saw Gaye shape the sound of Motown with his continuous accomplishments from the pen and the microphone and he began to be called the “Prince of Soul.”
Although he worked with plenty of different talent, Marvin Gaye was close with a particular duet partner named Tammi Terrell – you can find her voice in the popular song “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” alongside Gaye. Tragically, Terrell developed cancer and the young musician passed away, leaving Gaye in a period of depression. This time he spent in a darker place led him to break away from the Motown mold and become one of the first artists from the label to release a concept album, much to owner Barry Gordy’s dismay. The first politically driven single “What’s Going On” was written about the police brutality Gaye witnessed at an anti-war rally, and the album that followed suit sold millions of copies and scored two Grammy nominations – Gordy definitely bit his tongue. After the success of What’s Going On, Gaye signed a one million dollar deal with Motown, making it the most lucrative deal made by a black singer at that time.
Tragedy struck the world of music on April 1st 1984 when Gaye’s father shot and killed him in his home; Gaye got between his parents during an argument before the lethal act ensued. The death of Gaye was a huge loss, but his legacy paved the way for later R&B singers and political artists. His violent death only made his message of justice stronger, and his music will continue to make listeners feel what Marvin Gaye always tried to convey: peace, love and understanding. Here are the most soulful and peace reminding Marvin Gaye quotes to feed your spiritual nourishment.
10 Marvin Gaye Quotes:
“If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else.” – Marvin Gaye
“I hope to refine music, study it, try to find some area that I can unlock. I don’t quite know how to explain it but it’s there. These can’t be the only notes in the world, there’s got to be other notes some place, in some dimension, between the cracks on the piano keys.” – Marvin Gaye
“Live for life, but let live everybody.” – Marvin Gaye
“An artist, if he’s truly an artist, is only interested in one thing and that is to wake up the minds of men, to have mankind and womankind realize that there is something greater than what we see on the surface.” – Marvin Gaye
“Art is a way of possessing destiny.” – Marvin Gaye
“If you escape from people too often, you wind up escaping from yourself.” – Marvin Gaye
“I don’t make records for pleasure. I did when I was a younger artist, but I don’t today. I record so that I can feed people what they need, what they feel. Hopefully, I record so that I can help someone overcome a bad time.” – Marvin Gaye
“Great artists suffer for the people.” – Marvin Gaye
“Most fear stems from sin; to limit one’s sins, one must assuredly limit one’s fear, thereby bringing more peace to one’s spirit.” – Marvin Gaye
“War is not the answer, because only love can conquer hate.” – Marvin Gaye
Author: Selena Doner
Selena Doner is a freelance journalist who is passionate about environmental issues, social justice, arts and culture, and travel.