Anna Gordy Gaye died yesterday in Los Angeles. I doubt many have heard of her. Yet, the names in her name should tell most of us something. Yes, she is related to Berry Gordy, Jr, (her brother) the creator of Motown, and yes, she was related to Marvin Gaye, Jr. of Washington D.C.; they married in 1963 (she was 41; he was 24). There is more to the Gaye part of the story but first a bit on Ms. Gaye.
Ms. Gaye was not a lucky recipient of being related to Berry Gordy. She was involved and on the case at Motown. In 1958, she founded Anna Records with her late sister, Gwen Gordy. Berry Gordy produced some of his early songs on this label. When he founded Motown Records a few years later, Anna Records became part of Motown Records. After her marriage to Marvin Gaye, Anna became an important “liaison” according to the Detroit Free Press between the label and Marvin when he was having problems. Among other things, she was instrumental in making sure he made it where he was supposed to be during his Motown years.
Marvin and Anna Gaye had one son, Marvin III, and their marriage as most Gaye fans know, was quite contemptuous. They divorced in 1976 and Gaye famously recorded an album, “Here My Dear” which is allegedly his separation statement to Anna. Of all the Gaye albums, “Here My Dear” is the least familiar. By 1978 when it was released, the hardcore funk era was in full swing, disco had come and faded, and the nation was one year from Hip-Hop and Go-Go. It is still a testimonial album with Gaye’s signature sacredly soulful voice carrying the day. I gave it another listen after hearing of Anna Gordy Gaye’s death and have to admit, it is a strong album like most Gaye LPs. It is obvious about a special woman and a special relationship that did not quite work out, something very human. Yet, the album despite the moment is still about love, the thing Marvin Gaye seemed to express better than most on wax. It is bittersweet soul but honest nonetheless. God Bless Anna Gordy Gaye.