He was the Godfather of Go-go. She moved from Colombia at 18.
He developed a subgenre of funk music in Washington, D.C. She designed his memorial park.
Paola Moya of Silver Spring is the designer and architect behind the memorial park for the late Chuck Brown, a singer, guitarist and creator of go-go. The tribute was unveiled on Friday at the Langdon Park in D.C.
Brown died in 2012, leaving behind a style of music that is a mix of funk, blues, jazz, African rhythms, soul, gospel, and hip-hop.
“We wanted to make sure that people remember him and the new generation knows who Chuck Brown is,” Moya said.
Brown’s family members, fans, city officials and architects of Marshall Moya Design were at the unveiling ceremony.
The park features a timeline of Brown’s life and musical career, as well as a photo mosaic tile wall that shows some of Brown’s performances.
Moya, 34, is the CEO of Marshall Moya Design, a D.C.-based architecture firm.
Before venturing into the world of architecture, Moya was living in Bogota, Colombia, with her family and studying law.
“I was taking classes in law school. ... And I wanted to be sure to contribute to society and help people,” she said. “I got here and worked for law firms and decided to change careers. [Law] wasn’t for me,” she said.
Moya moved with her family to the U.S. in 1999. She has lived in Silver Spring since 2009.
“We were able to provide a better future to my siblings and better future to ourselves. ... This country has given me my career,” Moya said.
Moya learned how to speak English and worked as a dog walker. She studied at Montgomery College, then at the Catholic University of America.
“I wanted to study. ... I used to wake up at 5 in the morning in order to do some homework,” she said.
Moya’s team was awarded the memorial park project after winning a design competition in the spring of 2013. Chuck Brown’s family, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, and the District of Columbia Department of General Services officials chose the winner.
According to Brown’s biography, his first hit was “We the People” on his debut album of the same name in 1972. Next came the album “Salt of the Earth” with the hit “Blow Your Whistle.”
In 1978, Brown’s original composition “Bustin’ Loose” took the top spot on the Billboard charts.
“The [memorial park] is very inviting. ... It is a celebration of Chuck Brown’s legacy,” Moya said.
The Colombian architect joined Michael Marshall to form Marshall Moya Design in 2010.
In 2013, Moya was awarded the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the DC Chamber of Commerce. This year, she won a Minority Business Leader Award from the Washington Business Journal.
Moya said she was “immensely grateful” that people recognized her work, but she does not see the awards as something only belonging to her.
“It’s always a team effort. ... I am very thankful and extremely humble about it,” Moya said.
She added: “On the other side of the coin, it’s our responsibility to do good work.”
The Marshall Moya Design team also was behind the $29 million restoration project of the Howard Theater, a place in D.C. that features live music, talent shows, local and national artists. The renovation preserved historical features and elements of the theatre.
Brown’s band, The Chuck Brown Band, still performs in his honor at the Howard Theatre.
Moya said his fans have another place to honor his legacy.
“This is a place where you can come and celebrate. ... It’s not just one type of music; it’s a celebration of music,” she said.