Michigan designates Jan. 20 as 'What's Going On" day honoring 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye song

Marvin Gaye What's Going On
Posted at 9:57 AM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 09:57:25-05

(WXYZ) — The State of Michigan is officially recognizing Jan. 20 as "What's Going On" Day in honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of Marvin Gaye's iconic single

The song was originally inspired by a police brutality incident witnessed by Renaldo "Obie" Brown and was recorded at Motown Studios A and B in Detroit.

It eventually became Gaye's second-most successful Motown Song behind "Let's Get It On."

“Having this tribute on the calendar provides us with an important moment—one where we can come together as a unified state to pause, reflect and appreciate the need for ideas, perspective, love and understanding. These are values that mean more today than ever before,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a release. “Through the recognition of “What’s Going On” Day, we hope to bring awareness to Marvin Gaye’s profound words as his timeless music remains in our hearts and minds and continues inspiring generations to come.”

Motown Museum is celebrating the history of one of Motown’s greatest artists with help from the State of Michigan. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has officially recognized January 20 as “What’s Going On” Day, as Wednesday, January 20, 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Gaye’s iconic “What’s Going On” single. The museum will use this commemorative date to kick off several moments in 2021 celebrating the half-century anniversary of the release of Gaye’s impactful What’s Going On album. Motown Museum Chairwoman and CEO Robin Terry made the announcement.

“This is a significant moment for the museum, our community, and Motown fans all around the world, and we’re thankful that the State of Michigan has partnered with us to recognize this date as we begin our year-long celebration of this album,” Motown Museum CEO Robin Terry added in a release. “As we come out of a very challenging year, it’s more important than ever to reflect on Marvin Gaye’s prolific and timeless lyrics to inspire a spirit of connection in 2021. “What’s Going On” Day will serve as a reminder of his impact and legacy—bringing awareness to the issues of today, encouraging active dialogue between groups and individuals and acknowledging the important role Motown music continues to play in uniting us all.”