"She’s in heaven with my father and a spokesperson for us in spirit,” Nona Gaye wrote.
Stylist, manager, and author, Janis Gaye—the second wife of Motown legend Marvin Gaye and the subject of several of his songs—died Saturday, December 3, at her home in Rhode Island. She had a 66-year-old age. She is survived by her brother Mark Gaillard, sister Shawnn Monteiro, children Nona and Frankie, and grandchild Nolan Pentz.
Nona Gaye issued a statement honoring her mother to Discover Magazine. “I am deeply saddened by the passing of my mother, Janis Gaye. She was the most influential woman in my life and many others.” Describing her mother as a woman you could never forget if you met her once, the daughter expressed her grief at the loss.
RIP JANIS GAYE !! I would not have the intimate understanding of not just one of my favorite artists but also about the dynamic of relationships in the industry. I loved your book after the dance and wish you peace on your journey pic.twitter.com/awQwWmuuBn— Geechee Hippie ✊🏾🧘🏾♀️♋️ (@MochaMonaee) December 6, 2022
Nona said she always said exactly what she meant. “Every word from her mouth was from her soul. She never said anything she didn’t mean. I know her drive and influence from the time she was 17 until the day she died was all about her family and family that extended beyond blood – brothers, sisters in every part of this beautiful and painful planet. Every day she was here it was about the love she felt for her husband, children, grandson, and the friends she met all over the world.”
Nona admired the love her mom had for Marvin Gaye, adding that she did her best to preserve his legacy after he was "taken from us too soon." She wrote, “From the time she met my father, she was exposed to the way he saw this world was aching, and she did her best to preserve his legacy as he was taken from us far too early. She took every moment to speak about every word and every note of his music, and she wanted to make sure everyone knew the man she fell in love with. I will never get to see her again in this life but know she’s in heaven with my father and a spokesperson for us in spirit.”
Nolan Pentz, her grandson, vows to take up the things she wanted to do, preserving the Gaye legacy. Paying homage to his grandmother's legacy, he added, “From the first memory of my grandmother, I knew then and now, how much she cared about her family and the warmth she gave to all of us. I will always be grateful for all the memories. She also cared about so many people in the world, and I will do everything I can to put into action the things she wanted and help continue the Gaye legacy.”
“My mom was immensely proud of her grandson, Nolan, and how he stepped up as a young man, like a soldier, to help the family and lend support in times of need,” Nona said of her son.
Prestigious author and activist bell hooks called Jan “one of the most honest and courageous women I’ve ever met.” Barbara Hunter and Slim Gaillard gave birth to Janis Hunter Gaye on January 6, 1956. Janis would meet her future husband during the Let's Get It On recording session. She eventually served as the inspiration for numerous of his songs, including Marvin Gaye's Jan, which he composed and sang for his 1974 blockbuster Motown album, Live! She was also the theme behind I Want You, the 1976 No. 1 album. Background vocals on Gaye's 1977 hit song Got To Give It Up also included Hunter.
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Nona Gaye