With hours of stories and songs, the District said its final goodbye Thursday to Chuck Brown, the "Godfather" of the go-go music that has echoed through D.C. neighborhoods for generations.
"One of the reasons I loved Chuck so much was Chuck was always about D.C.," said Donnie Simpson, a radio personality who hosted the memorial service at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. "That music he created was right here in D.C. It was for the world, but the world had to come get it."
On Thursday afternoon, thousands did. Although the cavernous room never reached its capacity of 14,500, the president of the convention center estimated about 9,000 people attended the event, which lasted more than three hours.
|The District government acknowledged Thursday that it was helping to foot the bill for Thursday's memorial service for go-go music icon Chuck Brown.|
|Greg O'Dell, the president and CEO of Events DC, said the Walter E. Washington Convention Center had waived its standard rental fee and the city would be paying much of the rest.|
|Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray, said preliminary estimates showed the city would spend about $60,000 for the event.|
Jacqueline Reid was one of the D.C. residents who lined up before dawn to secure a seat near the stage, before which Brown's casket stood surrounded by flowers.
"It's a joyous day," said Reid, who arrived at 5:30 a.m. Thursday. "We're celebrating. My heart feels good for him."
She wasn't alone.
"It's very, very sad, but it's a joyous occasion because Chuck Brown was a living legacy," said Wendell Sorrell, a resident of Southeast Washington's Barry Farm neighborhood. "It's amazing how one man can touch so many lives and bring peace and harmony to the nation's capital."
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said Brown's music transformed the District.
"Chuck Brown rescued D.C. from the image of a government town that couldn't keep a beat," Norton said. "Chuck gave us a hometown sound."
But others chose to focus on more than just the music.
"He was a true family man," said longtime friend Nat Mathis. "He was a husband who loved his wife. He was a father who adored his children. He was a grandfather who was excited about being a grandfather."
Brown died May 16 in Baltimore after a long bout with pneumonia. He was 75.