James Brown: the Legacy Continues

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

James BrownThe I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium(the Stanback), along with SC State University’s Office of Alumni Relations, will continue to celebrate The Legacy of James Brown with an Alumni “Funky Good Time” Fish Fryon Friday, October 30, 2009 at 6 p.m. The Alumni “Funky Good Time” Fish Fry will take place at the Stanback located on the campus of SC State, and will feature James Brown’s former band, the JB’s, and his former hype man and Cape Master, Danny Ray. 

The Stanback previously opened its exhibition, James Brown: Preserving the Legacy, on Sunday, February 22 at SC State’s 113th Founders’ Day. During this event, Brown was posthumously honored with the Distinguished Community Service Award accepted by his daughter Deanna Brown. The exhibition was scheduled to close in September, but has been extended by popular demand through December 2009. James Brown will be celebrated at SC State’s Homecoming 2009 with individuals whose lives were impacted by their work over the years with Brown. 

“The Office of Alumni Relations looks forward to every Homecoming, and this year we are offering two outstanding campus events, sure to be sellouts,for both the young and seasoned local and returningSC State alumni,” said Dr. Rodell Lawrence, assistant vice president of Alumni Relations.  “The entertainment of James Browns’ former band, the JB’s, at the Stanbackfor the Alumni’s “Funky Good Time” Fish Fryon Friday night, and the 90’s to current hits of SoSo Def Records DJ Shakim at the Alumni All Black Affair in the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center on Saturday night, shouldprove to be an awesome SC State Homecoming,” continued Lawrence.

Friday evening will feature standard tunes rendered by the JB’s such as The Chicken, Pass The Peas, Hot Pants Road, Gimme Some More, Soul Power and Doing It To Death, as well as James Brown standards like Mother Popcorn, Cold Sweat, I Feel Good, Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine, The Payback, Papa Don't Take No Mess, Get Up Offa That Thing  and Try Me performed by the 2009 JB’s. Standing in the shadows of members from the original 1970’s JB’s like trombonist Fred Wesley, vocalist/organist Bobby Byrd, guitarist Jimmie Nolan, drummer John “Jabo” Starks, percussionist Johnny Griggs and sax men Sinclair Pinckney, Alfred Pee Wee Ellis and Maceo Parker, are the 2009 JB’s. The 2009 JB’s are the men and woman that exceeded the high standards set by James Brown for “keeping a groove and laying it in the pocket”. These persons include George “Spike” Nealy, assistant band director, SC State Marching 101 on percussion, Sheila Wheat on vocals, Keith Jenkins on guitar, Jeff Watkins on the saxes, Joe Collier on trumpet, Robert “Mousey” Thompson on drums, Fred Thomas on bass, Tyrone Jefferson on trombone and other special invited musicians, former dancers, immediate family, friends and fans. 

The items on exhibition were acquired by the Stanback director and SC State staff.  They visited the James Brown estate in Beech Island, SC, selecting items for preservation in the Stanback which include costumes, original music, unpublished photographs, early cuts of vinyl recordings, awards and trophies, personal notes and letters, fan memorabilia and souvenirs from all over the globe.  In addition to the original items on exhibition, the members of the JB’s will be exhibiting their personal James Brown memorabilia from their time of service with the Godfather. 

 “We are excited that the exhibition is in such popular demand and thrilled to extend the time in order to continue to honor the genius of the “Godfather of Soul”,” said Ellen Zisholtz, director for the Stanback.  

 Brown, born in Barnwell, SC, began performing gospel and R&B at an early age, but his entry into the professional music business came at the age of 16 when he met Bobby Byrd.  Brown soon found himself in Byrd's group, The Avons, who became The Famous Flames in 1955. Cincinnati's King Records signed the popular touring group, now with James' name in front, and the band scored an immediate R&B smash with 1956's Please, Please, Please. The late '60s found James Brown a cultural hero, "Soul Brother Number One." As a black man of wealth, independence, and influence, he was a symbol of self-determination and triumph over racism. Brown took that responsibility seriously.  His hit recordings of that decade have often been related to the emergence of the black artistic and Black Nationalist movements.  The songs Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud (1968), Don't Be a Drop-Out (1966), and I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothin' (Open Up the Door, I'll Get It Myself) (1969), contained direct social messages.  He sponsored programs for underprivileged youth, spoke at high schools, invested in black businesses, performed for troops in Vietnam and went on television after the April 4, 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to plead for calm, a service for which he was ceremoniously thanked for by Vice President Hubert Humphrey.  Politicians recruited Brown to help calm cities struck by civil insurrection and avidly courted his endorsement.  Entertainers influenced by Brown’s unique trademark style included Michael Jackson, Prince, MC Hammer, Mick Jagger, Snoop Dogg, Usher and newcomers Chris Brown and Neo.

In the 1970’s, Brown became “the Godfather of Soul,” and as a revolutionary singer, songwriter, arranger and dancer in the 20th century, Brown was one of the most important entertainers in popular music.  His extraordinary achievements earned him the name “the Hardest Working Man in Show Business.”  

The celebration will also feature a planetarium show of Brown’s personal footage arranged by Dr. Elizabeth Mayo, planetarium manager, for the Stanback. On display will be the Godfather of Soul’s telescope. (Brown was an Astronomy enthusiast).

 For more information about the Alumni “Funky Good Time” Fish Fry celebrating James Brown, please contact the Stanback at (803)536-7174, or the Office of Alumni Relations at (803)536-8946