James Brown

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Brown, James,

1933–2006, African-American rhythm-and-blues singer known as the "godfather of soul," b. Barnwell, S.C., as James Joe Brown, Jr. Abandoned by his parents, he left school in the seventh grade and turned to petty crime. After three years in reform school, Brown joined (1952) the Gospel Starlighters, which soon became the Famous Flames, the group with which he recorded his first hit, Please, Please, Please (1956). With his soulful, gravel-voiced, gospel-inflected singing style and spectacular stage presence—often screaming (on key) and dancing acrobatically—Brown was a true innovator of rhythm and blues and funk, recording such hit singles as I Got You (I Feel Good) (1965), It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World (1966), the Black Pride anthem Say It Loud (1968), and many albums, e.g., Live at the Apollo (1963) and The Payback (1974). He again hit the top of the charts with his Grammy-winning album Living in America (1985). Jailed (1988) on drug and gun charges, he was released in 1991 and resumed an active singing and recording career. Brown's vocal style has had a great influence on musicians from Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, and hip-hop artists. The recipient of many music awards, in 1986 Brown was one of the original inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


See his The Godfather of Soul (1986) and I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life of Soul (2005); biographies by RJ Smith (2012) and J. McBride (2016).

Brown, James

(1791–1877) banker; born in Ireland (son of Alexander Brown). He arrived in Baltimore, Md. in 1802 and in 1825 established the New York City branch of his father's firm, Brown Brothers & Company. He guided the banking house through financial crises (1837, 1857) and the Civil War. He gave generously to local institutions and was one of the founders of Presbyterian Hospital. The mayor of New York City ordered all flags on public buildings to fly at half-mast at his death.

Brown, James

(1928–  ) musician; born in Barnwell, S.C. One of the most significant figures in black pop music, he began his singing career in Macon, Ga., with the Gospel Starlighters. In 1954, he formed a vocal group, the Famous Flames, with whom he recorded his first "cry" ballads, "Please, Please, Please" (1956) and "Try Me" (1958). Combining gospel and blues roots with a stage presentation that mixed calculated hysteria and absolute musical precision, he emerged by 1962 as the leading star in rhythm and blues and one of its key innovators. His nicknames included "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business" and "Soul Brother Number One." During the late 1960s, his ambiguous racial politics made him an emblematic figure for both moderate and radical movements. His 1968 recording, "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud," became an anthem of the Black Power movement. By the early 1970s, he had become one of the first black entertainers to assume complete control of his own career, and this remains an enduring aspect of his legacy. In 1986, he was an inaugural member of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. The following year, his recording "Living in America" won a Grammy for best rhythm & blues performance. In 1988 he was jailed for three years on charges that included aggravated assault. Upon his release in 1991, he resumed his career as a leading concert and recording artist.
References in periodicals archive ?
was the mighty holler from the Godfather of Soul that beckoned Maceo to lead JB's band with the famous sax solo found on the generation-less classic, 'I Got You (I Feel Good).
A North East funk band is hoping to find the region's answer to the Godfather of Soul.
AUGUSTA, GA -- The art world will honor James Brown, "The Godfather of Soul," in the way it does best --with a legacy monument created by internationally renowned sculptor Donald Brown.
this weekend with a screening of a concert by the recently departed godfather of soul, James Brown.
The Godfather of Soul is gone, and the death of James Brown has clearly addled some of his fans.
Brown, revered as the Godfather of Soul, died of heart failure on Christmas Day aged 73.
Thousands of people danced and sang in the streets outside New York's historic Apollo Theatre in a raucous farewell celebration of the Godfather of Soul last night as his body was displayed on the stage where he made his 1956 debut.
Back in the 1950s she hung out with old bluesmen instead, then toured with Godfather of Soul James Brown.
But the Godfather of Soul has worked diligently not only at conveying his feelings and messages in his music, but also at confronting segregation in his early years and his own failings as an adult.
HOLLYWOOD stunt work is, to quote the Godfather of Soul, a man's, man's, man's world.
Stark also is risking the ire of both the Godfather of Soul, James Brown (to whom Rev.