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).

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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.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
If you need any further proof of their pulling power are the support acts that have included NERD and for the Cardiff leg of tours across Europe and the UK, the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
Chadwick Boseman plays the Godfather of Soul who we first meet about to take the stage in front of a sold out audience before we flashback to his childhood growing up in a shack in rural Carolina.
Chadwick Boseman plays the Godfather of Soul on his journey from a shack in rural Carolina to superstar.
Grapevine, TX, July 05, 2014 --(PR.com)-- Inside the Godfather is a history changing book, but most importantly we will set the record straight about James Brown, The Godfather of Soul! Stories that have never been told such as: Did you know that James Brown, The Godfather of Soul was offered over ten million dollars to convert to a certain religion?
Boseman has been cast to play the Godfather of Soul in a planned biopic by ''The Help'' director Tate Taylor.
Ellis, who joined the Godfather of Soul, James Brown's Revue in 1965 and became band leader within six months, formed a line-up which was assembled to combine classic crowd-pullers with emerging Welsh talent.
Director Jeffrey Levy-Hinte ploughed through 450,000ft of film footage to find previously unseen footage of performers like BB King, Bill Withers and the Godfather of Soul himself - James Brown.
THE NIGHT JAMES BROWN SAVED DETROIT DETROIT Music THE NIGHT JAMES BROWN SAVED DETROIT (BBC Four, 9.15pm) THERE have been plenty of shaggy dog stories told over the year regarding the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
The Godfather of Soul won Grammy awards, recorded more than 110 charted singles and is credited for inventing funk and rap music.
"Maceo, I want you to blow!" 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)." Also known for playing with big cats such as George Clinton and Prince, Maceo follows up on 50 years of bringin' the funk with his second solo album, Roots & Grooves (Heads Up), a tribute to the innovator of soul Ray Charles.
A North East funk band is hoping to find the region's answer to the Godfather of Soul.
Well, according to a recent survey commissioned by lad's mag FHM, the Godfather of Soul couldn't be more wrong.