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James Brown

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  • Pose with the James Brown Statue in Augusta, Georgia.

    Pose with the James Brown Statue in Augusta, Georgia.

  • An exhibit at the Augusta Museum of History features items from the "Godfather of Soul," James Brown.

    An exhibit at the Augusta Museum of History features items from the "Godfather of Soul," James Brown.

  • James Brown, of Augusta, Georgia, was known not just for his singing, but also for his showmanship.

    James Brown, of Augusta, Georgia, was known not just for his singing, but also for his showmanship.

  • A portion of Ninth Street in downtown Augusta, Georgia, is named for beloved native James Brown.

    A portion of Ninth Street in downtown Augusta, Georgia, is named for beloved native James Brown.

An influential, durable and larger-than-life performer, Augusta’s James Brown is indispensable to the story of American postwar popular music. Beginning in 1955 with vocal group the Flames and longtime collaborator Bobby Byrd, Brown began solidly in the footsteps of Little Richard and Ray Charles, performing straightforward, gospel-influenced R&B.

But as the 1960s dawned, Brown made a mark of his own, developing a one-of-a-kind live show built around his indefatigable showmanship, killer dance moves and a sizable revue. His sound changed as well, turning solidly to the pioneering funk by which he’s now identified by 1968’s "Cold Sweat." Beginning in 1956 with "Please, Please, Please," Brown scored hit after hit on the charts (114 R&B hits, 94 on the pop charts) and toured the world with a crackerjack band, over which he exercised absolute discipline and control.

By the 1970s, Brown was acknowledged by many widely known honorifics, including "Soul Brother Number One," "The Godfather of Soul" and "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business." After a disco-era slump, Brown re-emerged forcefully in the 1980s, thanks to hip-hop artists who extensively mined his catalog (and aesthetic) for their sounds. By the time of his 2006 death, Brown was widely acknowledged as an important, influential figure by countless fellow artists.