Remember the late Marvin Gaye's sleek, sexy R&B crooning? Well, don't expect anything remotely like that from his daughter Nona.
The 18-year-old, whose debut album (see review, Page 62) has just been released, sounds more like tiny-voiced dance divas Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson. But that's fine with young Gaye, who prefers not to remind anyone of her father.
"Musically, I'm totally different from my dad," she explains in her Redondo Beachapartment. "I never wanted to sound like him. There are going to be people who want to hear more of him through me, but they'll be disappointed."
Indirectly, though, her father has been a guiding force in her career. "I think about him a lot--the happy times we spent together--and think about if he'd be proud of me," she says. "I get a lot of emotional inspiration from my father's music and my memories of him."
Gaye, born in Washington and raised in the South Bay, doesn't have a performing background. "I didn't sing in church or clubs when I was growing up," says the singer, whose mother was Marvin Gaye's second wife. "I was just singing around the house all the time."
With her father living in Europe during much of her childhood, she didn't lead the glamorous life of a star's daughter. "People are surprised to hear it, but I had a very normal, uneventful childhood," she recalls.
Another surprise: Gaye didn't grow up on a diet of Motown oldies. She cites a diverse roster of such non-R&B artists as Siouxsie and the Banshees and Paul Simon among her influences--and doesn't mention a single Motown artist.
Not surprisingly, Motown was among the record companies that she says weren't interested when she and her mother, Janis, who doubles as her manager, started shopping for a record deal. Just having a famous name was not enough to overcome wariness of a raw talent with no performing experience. But the Atlantic-distributed Third Stone label--co-owned by actor Michael Douglas--gave her a chance to prove herself.
Now with her debut album, "Love for the Future," under her belt, Gaye candidly acknowledges that she's still far from being an accomplished performer: "I have a very long way to go."