Let’s Get it On….sounds like a steamy night at the theatre don’t you think?
It certainly will be with the soul styling’s of Marvin Gaye’s music and the smooth voice of Mr Bert Labonte, who will be singing with a band of nine top Australian musicians.This won’t be your average concert; the night will be peppered with stories of Marvin Gaye’s life.
Bert will be joined by up and coming singer song-writer Jude Perl who will feature as Tammi Terrell, the Motown singer perhaps best known for her duets with Marvin Gaye.
Emily Paddon-Brown caught up with Bert and Jude to talk about Marvin Gaye, the man and his music, and the current production.
Jude admits that Marvin Gaye has had a profound influence on her life. “I started out by playing little solo gigs where I was pretty much only playing Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Carol King tunes”.
One fateful day Jude decided to put up a very silly version of her singing Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ on the web. Luckily for her the producers of Let’s Get It On: The Life and Music of Marvin Gaye stumbled across the video and resolved to see Jude live. After her concert they decided she was the woman to fill the role in the show. Jude was thrilled “I’m just such a big soul music fan!”.
Bert grew up in the South Eastern suburbs where R&B was huge and he was immersed in the likes of Marvin Gaye, Nat King Cole and Lionel Richie. When chatting to Bert he gets all excited about a clip of Marvin Gaye singing ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’ he found on YouTube. Bert remarks on how incredibly impressive his passion and commitment are. “It is truly extraordinary to hear his storytelling – the passion and the soul. They called him the ‘Prince of Soul’ and he was because he sang straight from the soul.” Bert tells me he has made a commitment to honour him by challenging himself to bring his own soul to Marvin Gaye’s songs.
Marvin Gaye like most performers fell off the wagon, but it is understandable. In 1967 his long time singing partner Tammi Terrell collapsed mid concert and died in 1970 aged just twenty-five of a brain tumour. You only have to hear their infectious joy in ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ to recognise the passion and connection they shared.
In Marvin’s life he had the bad fortune to experience physical abuse, the Vietnam War and racial discrimination. All this fed his music; “You hear the pain, but then there’s all the other great stuff. You get to hear the joy, you hear the sex, you hear the love, you hear the party boy in him” says Bert.
Both Bert and Jude have such a passion for soul music and for Marvin Gaye that the audience is bound to feel it.
Jude left me with these thoughts on Marvin Gaye:
“He was so ahead of his time; he did so many styles. He is a really important artist. He made incredible music and pushed music in a lot of different ways. I love his music and anyone who loves his music should come and see the show because it will be such a great tribute to him”.
Date & Venue
9-13 May @ Clock, Melbourne
Date & Venue
13-25 May @ Athenaeum, Melbourne