‘WE’D BE FIGHTING BECAUSE WE’RE ALIKE’
“I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT I have a personality of my own and I’m not just Marvin Gaye’s daughter,” says Nona Gaye. “And I don’t mean to sound cocky. I’m really proud to be his daughter.”
And, as Suzanne Vega put it, blood makes noise. “I’m stubborn, very particular and very spoiled—and so was he,” says Nona, who has her father’s aloof, almond-shaped eyes—eyes that belie an underlying intensity. “If he were here, we’d be fighting nonstop because we’re too much alike.” Nona’s mother and manager, Janis Gaye, Marvin’s second wife, also sees similarities. “It’s frightening,” says Janis, 36. “She clenches her fists and tightens her face to hit the right note, just like he did.”
Nona, her brother, Frank, 15, and their mom live in a secluded Redondo Beach, Calif., apartment about two blocks from the ocean with their miniature Doberman, Jackson. Three years ago, Nona dropped out of high school to work with an academic; tutor and concentrate on singing. She has never had a voice lesson or sung in a choir but practices at home while vacuuming, washing dishes or showering. “I have to explore because I’m not quite sure where I am musically,” she says. “That’s why there are so many different kinds of songs on the album. I’m always singing. It makes me happy. But sometimes my family wants me to tone it down, and they’ll say, ‘Shut up!’ ” One thing she doesn’t attempt to sing yet is her father’s songs. “I want to establish myself as an artist first before I try to do anything as good as what he did,” she says.