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International Civil Rights: Walk of Fame
James Brown
James Brown
1933 - 2006

James Brown born in Snelling, South Carolina and publically known as the Godfather of Soul, provided inspiration for many through his musical influences.

Brown grew up working in the cotton fields, collecting lumps of coal, and shining shoes to help buy food for the family.

He established a self determination after dropping out of school to educate himself in music by building on the gospel roots from which he discovered in church. By the age of fifteen, Brown had formed his own band, the Cremora Trio. With this group, Brown began to establish a distinctive style. Brown, later, joined gospel singer Bobby Byrd and formed The Famous Flames.

The Flames was quick to advance to international acclaim. They brought rhythm and blues to life by playing anywhere they could. James used his music to break the boundaries of racial segregation that enveloped the United States in the 1950’s. Both blacks and whites became engrossed in the new musical phenomenon. In 1956, the Flames performed “Please, Please, Please” in front of a record company representative that led them to a recording contract and a song that surged to #6 on the R&B charts.

Mr. Brown went on to record 75 R&B Top 20 Hits (17 of which reached #1) and sold over 60 million records penning hits like “Papa’s got a brand new bag,” “I Feel Good,” “Don’t be a Drop out,” “Say it Loud, I’m Black and Proud,” and “Living in America.” His style came to symbolize a precursor for all who followed.

Despite the turbulent public life he faced, he was personally and privately known as a kind, generous man who reached out to the needy. He consistently helped under-privileged children and fed the poor. He sponsored a turkey-give-away and a book-give-away every year and his last act of kindness reflects it.

Hospitalized with pneumonia, James Brown left his hospital bed, went out in the cold rain to give out toys to needy children and died the next day …. Christmas.