“I Gave My Whole Life”
Donnell Floyd, also known as The King of the Go-Go Beat, was born and raised in the D.C. Metropolitan area. In 1983, he joined D.C.’s Wickedest Band Alive, Rare Essence (RE) while attending the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. He performed with RE for nearly two decades during which he recorded songs with greats such as: Doug E. Fresh, Heavy D and Redman. As the most accomplished writer of original songs in the history of Go-Go, Donnell contributed lead vocals to and co-wrote songs well known to the Go-Go culture such as Body Snatchers, Overnight Scenario, Lock It, Work the Walls and many others.
In 2001, Donnell decided it was time to spread his wings. His band, 911, appeared as a feature act on the critically acclaimed live DVD “Put Your Hands Up! The Tribute Concert to Chuck Brown.” Over the next decade, he made his newfound musical home with Familiar Faces (formerly 911), performing on stages with nationally recognized recording artists such as Montell Jordan, Tony Terry, Fantasia, Marsha Ambrosius, and R. Kelly.
With the passing of Little Benny, the Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown called on Donnell to
join the Chuck Brown Band. He played with them from 2010 until after Brown’s 2012 passing. In August of 2013, Donnell focused solely on his band, by that time performing as Team Familiar.
Not one to put himself or his name in the limelight, Donnell has steadily, throughout time, remained central to the popularity and continuation of the genre. Team Familiar, is one of, if not the most, booked bands in the genre, playing in a venue every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
From the onset, Team Familiar has pushed the envelope in the go-go genre, becoming the first go-go band to perform live in Miami more than a decade ago. In 2013, the same year the D.C. Council designated October 19th as “Donnell Floyd Day,” Team Familiar took their talents to Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas. In 2018, Team Familiar became global go-go ambassadors when Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, invited the group to the Pan-Afrikan Back-To the Roots Festival in Nigeria.
These days, Donnell’s passion continues to lie in developing new talent while spearheading the quest for music worthy of Grammy nominations. Often times you’ll find him working behind the scenes. However, his impact on and contributions to the D.C. go-go scene have been steady, consistent, and critical to its existence and survival. His name doesn’t have to be on the marquee, but Donnell’s stamp is likely to be found on the past, present and future of Go-Go.
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