On a recent Sunday evening at the downtown DC restaurant the Hamilton, the Chuck Brown Band was on a roll. The group’s first three songs, go-go covers of R&B hits, had pulled some of the diners onto the dance floor, but things really heated up when singer Frank “Scooby” Sirius made an announcement: “Welcome to the stage, my partner in crime! Wiley Brown, looking just like his daddy . . . .”
Sure enough, Wiley—the youngest son of “godfather of go-go” Chuck Brown, who died in 2012—did rather resemble his dad when he strutted onstage wearing a fedora and dark shades. The crowd cheered as he joined the 11-member band (which also includes Wiley’s sister, KK). Soon the dance floor was packed wall to wall.
Wiley never planned to carry on his father’s musical legacy. As a talented defensive back at Virginia Tech, he once thought he had a shot at a professional football career. Leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, he was living in Florida and training with stars like Chad Johnson and Brandon Marshall. Several teams had expressed interest in him, he says.
But in April of that year, Wiley was attacked and seriously injured by a dog. The long recovery and lasting damage spelled the end of his pro chances. Suddenly, he was forced to rethink his life. “For two years, I kind of went through it,” he says. “It was really hard for me to even be around football.”
Wiley had sporadically performed with his father since he was a teenager, occasionally getting onstage to rap. After Chuck died, he continued to do guest-vocal spots with the band just for fun.
But after the accident, while listening to a recording in the car one day, Wiley heard his dad’s oft-repeated catchphrase: “Whatever you do, big or small, do it well or don’t do it at all.” It got him thinking. “I pressed pause and was like, damn, I’m in the band but not really in the band.” At a rehearsal in 2016, he floated the idea of making his role in the group official. “They accepted me with open arms,” he says. Now Wiley is working on an album of his own. He also runs the Chuck Brown Foundation with his brother Nekos.
Despite the Chuck Brown Band’s busy schedule, music is still Wiley’s side gig. By day, he’s a teacher and coach at Kingsman Academy in Northeast DC and also a strength-and-conditioning coach for young football players. But watching him onstage, it’s obvious he’s a natural performer. At the Hamilton, Wiley made a point of chanting his dad’s transformative phrase during the set: “Whatever you do, big or small, do it well or don’t do it at all.” It was clear he meant every word.
This article appears in the July 2019 issue of Washingtonian.