“Today was Marvin’s Day!” Said Marvin Gaye’s younger sister Zeola Gaye.
*After the US Postal Service‘s soul-filled event on Tuesday, April 2 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, Jan Gaye, widow of Marvin Gaye, beamed with pride and excitement. “It’s a beautiful sun-shiny day. The family attendance was great. The way Marvin would have liked it. There are no negatives here and that’s an incredible positive!”
On April 2, 1939 legendary and iconic Motown artist Marvin Gaye was born. Eighty years later on what would have marked Gaye’s 80th birthday, the United States Postal Service (USPS) released a commemorative postage stamp in his honor. Gaye was a singer, songwriter and record producer known for his hits “Let’s Get It On,” “Mercy Mercy Me,” and “Sexual Healing.” He was influential in shaping the sound of Motown in the 1960s and his soulful presence still lives today.
Rightfully dubbed “The Prince of Soul,” Gaye’s the “Prince of Soul” Forever Postage Stamp was unveiled at a first-day-of-issue dedication event at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Family, friends and fans united to celebrate the occasion.
“Today has been absolutely fantastic! This is a day we’ve all been waiting for, for so long,” said Zeola who gave a speech in honor of her big brother.
“He would wonder ‘why am I getting this stamp?’ Because you’re the G.O.A.T, always will be!” Jan said thinking of Gayes reaction to receiving a stamp. He was an influencer. He addressed many things from politics to world issues in his songs at a time when artists were often told not cover such topics and us regular folks needed someone with a platform to speak out.
“[He was]the person that musicians look up to, politicians look up to, the average person looks up to. He’s a great man and he deserved this stamp,” Jan said about this moment in Gaye’s legacy.
Fans patiently have been waiting since the USPS’s announcement in November. Some have been have been waiting since February after the USPS posted it on its Instagram account. Others have been waiting longer than that.
As reported by undefeated super-fan Carla M. Johnson, she had been advocating for Gaye’s stamp for about six years. This commemoration was extra special for her as it was for Gaye’s family. Carla established the nonprofit Unity in the Community and launched the Marvin Gaye USPS Stamp Initiative in 2014.
“I love Marvin because he’s a genius,” said Carla, “he deserves a stamp just like Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin.” Although she never met him, the Charlotte native says his lyrics about issues in inner cities; substance abuse and mental health are as relevant now as they were when he was alive. She pushed for the stamp to preserve and honor Gaye’s legacy.
“He is just as important and deserving as other artists of having the government honor him. I wanted to show that you can pursue a goal and make it happen,” Carla said.
Others including Gaye’s family have been fighting to get a stamp commemorated in Gaye’s honor as well. “It’s been almost 30 something years trying to get Marvin this stamp,” said Zeola. “My brother has a postage stamp!”
“It is a little surreal. I’m a little overwhelmed by it all but overjoyed at the same time,” said Jan Gaye, widow of Marvin Gaye. “It’s an amazing honor. I mean everybody doesn’t get this.”
The Marvin Gaye “Prince of Soul” Forever Postage stamp is a part of the 2019 “Music Icons” collection which was launched in 2013 and features other artists such as Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Sarah Vaughn. The stamp comes just days after the recent release of Gaye’s posthumous album “You’re the Man.” The “lost” album was originally set to be released in 1972 after “What’s Going On,” and is described by Jan as a “a compilation of sorts [that is] politically aware, but at the same time there’s some romance.”
The “Prince of Soul” Forever stamp will be sold in books of 16 and feature a portrait designed by artist Kadir Nelson who said the picture is “classic Marvin Gaye.” The image was created from a photo taken during the “What’s Going On” era. The Stamp sheet is designed to replicate a vintage 45 record sleeve.
The Marvin Gaye “Prince of Soul” Forever Postage Stamps along with the rest of the 2019 Music Icons collection are now available for purchase at your local U.S. post office or on USPS.com.
More snaps from MG stamp ceremony:
Thanks mucho to Photojournalist Vinni Ratcliff for the great photos