The Godfather of Soul: James Brown
oil on canvas
24"x 24"x 2"
James Brown has been recognized as one of the most influential figures in the 20th Century. Renowned for his vocals and feverish dancing, he was also called "the hardest working man in show business". Brown began his professional music career in 1956 and rose to fame during the late 1950s and early 1960s mainly on the strength of his thrilling live performances. During the mid-1960s Brown released a string of smash hits including "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World". James Brown's 1967 #1 R&B hit "Cold Sweat", often sited as the first true funk song, was the first of his recordings to contain a drum break and the first that featured a harmony that was reduced to a single chord. The instrumental arrangements on later tracks such as "Give It Up or Turnit A Loose"; "Licking Stick" and "Funky Drummer" all feature a more developed version of Brown's mid-1960s style, with horn section, guitars, bass and drums meshed together in intricate rhythmic patterns based on mutiple interlocking riffs. Brown's recordings influenced musicians across the industry, most notably: Sly and the Family Stone, Booker T & the M.G.s and Edwin Starr. Even a young Michael Jackson took Brown's shouts and dancing into the pop mainstream as the lead singer of Motown's Jackson Five. Ironically, many of James Brown's "funk" tracks resurfaced years later as sample beats for countless hip-hop MC's. James Brown remains the world's most sampled artist, with "Funky Drummer" itself being the most sampled individual piece of music ever! James Brown received numerous awards during his lifetime, including a star on Hollywood Boulevard; being among the first inductees into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys.
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