Bill Ung

James Brown (2014)


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From the sixties to the seventies, James Brown was a huge African American Icon. The story of his struggle from when he was young to what he accomplished now is incredible. He had a tough life when he was young, but that paid off from being a person picking cotton to a world class singer. The dedication and soul being put into his music is unimaginable, which what makes him a one of a kind. With his success, he will always be remembered as the Godfather of Soul.

Personal Background

James Joseph Brown, Born in May 3,1933 and died in December 25,2006. James Brown was a person who didn't have a great life when he was a youngster. When he was little, he shined shoes, picked up cotton and danced to earn money. He started loving music and started to write songs of hi own (Wiegard). When he was sixteen years old he became addicted to drugs, and was arrested for stealing and breaking into cars. When he was arrested for stealing cars, he was sentenced to three years in prison. In prison, Brown organized and led a prison gospel choir.Then, James sang in a church choir, where he developed his powerful and unique vocals.
When Brown was released, he started doing sports like boxing and playing semi-professional baseball in 1953. In 1955 Bobby Byrd and James became friends and Byrd invited him to join his R&B vocal group called Gospel Starlighters (Maslin). James Brown accepted and they performed at local nightclubs. In 1956 the group recorded a song called "Please, Please, Please" and played it for Ralph Bass who was a talent scout for King Records (Unterberger). Bass was impressed by the song and offered the group a record contract. Few months later, "Please, Please, Please" was No.6 on the R&B chart. Brown was married four times in his life and had six children's. His wives names were Velma Warren, Deidre Jenkins, Adrienne Rodriguez and Tomi Rae Hynie. In 2004, Brown was arrested again for domestic violence against Hynie (Maycock).
By 1962, Brown and his group made a big hit with their song "Night Train," that became a top five in R&B single, and Browns first top forty on Billboard Hot on hundred. During James's singing career, he started making new dance moves like the "Camel Walk," "Mashed Potato," and "The Popcorn" (Burnett). In 1967, Brown's sound in soul music was being switched to funk music. Brown's first music that was called a funk song was "Cold Sweat." That song made James Brown happy because it hit No.1 on the R&B chart. Browns way of funk was the drumming beat and the bass lines in the song (Unterberger). Soon Brown's recordings influenced musicians such as Edwin Starr, Dennis Edwards, David Ruffin, The Temptations, and Michael Jackson (Maslin). With Brown's huge success in his career, there was nothing stopping his way in making great songs. Fans of his cheered and loved him for his creativity and love for the songs he made. Soon James Brown was named the "Godfather of Soul". In age 73, Brown died in a Hospital at Atlanta, Georgia in December 25, 2006 (Maslin).

Personal Traits

When James Brown was little, he was very shy in class but got in trouble a lot. He loved to play around when he was home. He would joke around with his family and mess around in his room. He loved to be creative, so he wrote a song and attended to talent shows for fun. When he turned twelve, his mother left him and he started to live on his own which made him really sad. James liked to play sports, and that's what cheered him up or feel better. He was very nice to other people, and was very easy to get along with. He was very playful with his friends and loved to make people laugh. In his band group he was very strict, and made things fun at the same time. He was very humble and loyal to his fans and family in any circumstances. Later on James had four wives and one of them accused him for being violent.

Historical Significance

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James Brown was a great person throughout the years, as a singer, leader, dancer. James Brown accomplished so much in his life, that he felt like it changed his life. James Brown was respected for his music and the hard work he put in to making the music for his fans (Maycock). After his song "Don't Be a Drop-Out," he got to meet the president Lyndon B. Johnson and James was honored for being a positive role model to the youth (Weinger). James Brown was the first to have a soul music flipped into a funk music which became popular when times progressed (Burnett). He was a huge African American Icon because of his great effort in supporting African Americans, and looking out for them. When James Brown sang soul music, it was like no other to his fans who listened to it because it sounded like beauty to them. During his making of music, he was very popular and was named "The Soul Survivor " because of his songs that made soul music better, and more enjoyable to listen to.


James Brown also gave speeches about how important school was to students, and that they should do well in school. James made a record of making 800 songs, and still maintained and touring schedule (Unterberger). James broke the record of having 10 soul music in the top 5 charts on the billboard. James was the first to make funk music and make it a one of a kind style of music. He then achieved credibility of his single "Unity" by hip-hop and rap artist. Brown was among the first group of performers inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 (Wiegard). Soon before James Brown's death, Brown was awarded for the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors.


James Brown had a tough life when he was young. He barely had enough clothing for school until sixth grade (Schama). His Dad left him when he was little, and his mother was only there for him for a little while because she worked a lot (Maycock). He wasn't that great in making friends because he was very shy back then. He earned money by shining shoes, washing cars, and picking cotton (Unterberger). He had a huge addiction in drugs and stealing when he was a teenager. He was put to jail twice, and once he made a choir group in prison (Unterberger). Brown later got a career in singing, and he started creating new dance moves like, "Mashed Potato", "Camel Walk", and "The Popcorn" (Weinger). When he switched funk into soul music, it made him proud and he started being a hard working man in show businesses (Wiegand). With his popularity and influences in music, he was named or called the "Godfather Of Soul". He was a huge African American Icon to other people that loved him and cared for him (Maslin). Brown also had a lot of songs on the top list in R&B music that made him successful.


Burnett, Bugs. "Audience with the Godfather." 21 Dec. 2006 Web. 3 Nov. 2014
Maslin, Janet. "Say it Loud." Web. 7 March 2012.
Maycock, James. "Soul Survivor." 29 Oct. 2003. Web. 15 Sep. 2014
Unterberger, Richie. "Artist Biography." Web. 26 Sep. 2014
Weinger, Harry and Cliff White. "James Brown." Web. 13 Oct. 2014
Wiegard, David "Godfather of Soul." Web. 21 Dec. 2006