Fifty years to the day of Marvin Gaye‘s iconic single release, Michigan has formally announced January 20th as “What’s Going On” Day.

To commemorate the song and the entire What’s Going On? album, the Motown Museum is kicking off a series of events to be held throughout the year. Motown Museum Chairwoman and CEO Robin Terry said Gaye used to call “What’s Going On,” a song he was passionate about, “divinely guided.”

Originally recorded in Detroit’s Motown Studios’ A and B in 1971, “What’s Going On” was inspired by an incident of police brutality the late singer-songwriter and Four Tops member Renaldo “Obie” Benson witnessed one day in California.

“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,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer in a press 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.”

Listen to a live rendition of the song.

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Photo: FHG Photo