This year marks the 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s iconic album “What’s Going On?”
To celebrate, Raheem DeVaughn is hosting a tribute concert at Wolf Trap this Saturday.
“Being a Washingtonian and Marvin being a huge influence on my career, this was a huge opportunity and I jumped on it right away,” DeVaughn told WTOP. “Wolf Trap is an iconic place. I’m looking forward to doing it. … Home team representing the prince of Motown. … I’ve rounded up some of my good friends, artists from the area as well as artists that are known globally.”
The three-time Grammy nominee will be joined on stage by Daley, Eric Roberson, Yahzarah, Bee Boisseau, Attinshun Band, Micah Robinson and the Chuck Brown Band.
“The world has changed so much, but there are things that haven’t changed,” DeVaughn said. “Even back then, Marvin was talking about the social climate of the country in terms of racism, politics and having a brother that was off fighting the war in Vietnam. It shows the power of artistry and time capsuling things that are happening in real time.”
While Gaye was born in D.C., DeVaughn was born in Newark, New Jersey before moving to Prince George’s County and graduating from High Point High School in Beltsville, Maryland.
“I fell in love with Marvin’s music as a kid,” DeVaughn said. “Seeing him perform at ‘Motown 25’ along with Michael Jackson, witnessing him win a Grammy as well, and just being an all-around fan listening to the old catalog and stuff like that. Then, of course, his untimely demise of his death and the day he passed and Melvin Lindsey announcing it on Quiet Storm on WHUR locally.”
He left Coppin State University in Baltimore to “aggressively” pursue his career in music.
“The first year in college, I really got that itch,” DeVaughn said. “I dropped out and just had tunnel vision on my career as a recording artist and songwriter. Not something I would tell my kids to do, but if it was something they wanted to do, I would be as supportive as I could for their dreams and efforts, but that first year of college was when I started putting the pieces of the puzzle together.”
He was signed by Jive Records in 2002 for his debut album “The Love Experience” (2005).
“I was with Jive contractually from 2002 to 2010,” DeVaughn said. “Shout out to Cliff Jones and Jerry Vines, they were the industry guys to look to for guidance at that time in my career. Working with artists like Ginuwine, Dru Hill and Blackground Records at the time, who was behind Aaliyah, it gave me an opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business from my area.”
In 2008, he earned a Grammy nod for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance with “Woman.”
“That record was created here in Maryland by producer Chucky Thompson,” DeVaughn said. “I wanted to have a record that spoke to all women, not just one woman, that spoke for women, spoke to the beauty of women and lifted them up. That’s where the inspiration for that record came from. Definitely getting that call the first time, ‘You’ve been nominated for a Grammy,’ was exciting.”
He earned his second Grammy nomination for Best R&B Song with “Customer” and his third nomination for Best R&B Album with “The Love & War Masterpiece.”
“Definitely accolades that I can put under my belt, humbly,” DeVaughn said.
Before long, he was getting national exposure on late-night television.
“It’s been great, from doing Leno to Kimmell,” DeVaughn said. “Probably the most surreal moment for me was the brief time that Arsenio Hall came back. I had an opportunity to perform on ‘Arsenio’ when they revamped the show. Growing up on Arsenio in particular and seeing a platform that had so many artists that looked like me as a kid. That was always a dream or bucket list thing.”
He recently paid tribute to Gaye with the song “Marvin Used to Say” on his album “What a Time to Be In Love” (2020). He also says his newest album “Lovesick” (2021) features the same smooth style that Gaye brought to “Let’s Get It On” and “Sexual Healing.”
“If you listen to my catalog, there’s always two or three songs in there that have a heavy influence of Marvin, reminiscent of his lush harmonies,” DeVaughn said. “The voice was his instrument, but I feel like the subject matter was very intentional. It was very honest music. In interviews, he spoke on being this very sexual being, but being this very spiritual being at the same time.”