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St. Jude Radiothon 2024


There are some artists who transcend time and some who transcend their physical presence on the earthly plane. These artists died too soon and in ways so completely unexpected that we mourn their loss to this day.

These were the tremendous, iconic talents who in their varying ways, touched millions with their creative gifts.

We celebrate them, this and every Black Music Month. Here, we pay tribute to their lives and their work, while sharing a thought from those who knew them, admired them, or worked closely with them, or, in one moving quote, we let the artist speak for themselves.

These incredible artists are ones we still truly miss.


Sunrise: April 2, 1939

Sunset: April 1, 1984 Age: 44

“There’s no sound like Marvin Gaye: the way he sang so softly, almost gently — but also with so much power. That came straight from the heart. Everything in his life — everything that he thought and felt — affected his singing.

The first time I was really introduced to Marvin Gaye was the What’s Going On album, and I fell in love. It was so moving to hear him talk so desperately about the state of the world, on top of all that brilliant musicality. One of my favorite things he did was to follow the strings with his voice, or double things that the instruments are doing. There’s such a simple, subtle lushness to it that adds this whole other layer to the music.

These days we have Pro Tools and a thousand tracks, and you can do different vocals on every track. But back then you really had to innovate, like the way Marvin answered himself in songs, or all that really distant backing work, where his voice is all the way in the back and echoing. It’s haunting; he delivered every single song with such clarity that it gave me chills.”

Singer/songwriter Alicia Keys, Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers (Gaye was #6)




Sunrise: April 20, 1951

Sunset: July 1, 2005 Age: 54

“He was one of the greatest voices that ever sang a song. He was one of the sweetest men I have ever known. And he was one of the best friends I have ever had. I’m so happy that his legacy will live on forever. … Luther was one of a kind and will never be forgotten. I miss him more than words could ever say.”

Singer Patti Labelle at the Essence Festival July 1, 2005

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