Affectionately known as the "Godfather of Go-Go," Chuck Brown pioneered a musical blend of Latin beats, African call-and-response chants, rhythm and blues, and jazz that has been identified with the District of Columbia for more than 40 years. Go-go in this case is not the popular music of the 1960s that inspired a dance and fashion craze, but rather a music and social scene deeply rooted in our nation's capital. Likening Chuck Brown to another musical pioneer, Bill Monroe, ethnomusicologist Kip Lornell says that Brown "remains among the few 20th-century American vernacular musicians who clearly developed and shaped a musical genre from its infancy to a more mature state." Brown was born in North Carolina, but his parents moved to the District of Columbia when he was seven. He grew up listening to jazz and blues and took up playing the guitar. In the early 1960s, he began performing with a Latin-inflected pop band called Los Latinos.
Brown eventually broke away to pursue his own artistic path and formed a group called the Soul Searchers. In 1971, they recorded "We the People," said by many to be the first recording with the distinctive go-go sound. Brown's 1978 album Bustin' Loose with the #1 hit single of the same name spread this regional music to a national audience. Today, this sound is heard in clubs and dance halls, as well as on the playgrounds and street corners, of the District of Columbia. The music has a large international following and Brown spends much time touring Europe and Asia. In 2000, go-go music was featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and Brown was presented with the District of Columbia's Mayor's Arts Award for his pioneering contributions to the music of the city. The 2005 opening game for the Washington Nationals baseball team fittingly featured Chuck Brown singing "Bustin' Loose" and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency
Sample: "2001 (That'll Work)"
Sample: "Hah Man (Sinbad, Main Title)"