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The Life and Music of James Brown

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Hour 2:           Who was James Brown before he became the “Godfather of Soul” and the “hardest working man in show business?” We’ll explore his incredible story and hear a few of the greatest soul tunes of the 20th Century this hour with journalist and author R.J. Smith whose new book is “The One: The Life and Music of James Brown” (Gotham (March 15, 2012).

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    RJ’s treatment of James Brown is unflatering to him. James Brown was bigger than Elvis in Africa and the rest of the world. James Brown’s music defined soul music, as we know it: He was copied by Michael Jackson and Prince in his moves, his splits and his explosive and dynamic dancing. You can hear the foundations of rap music in his songs, including some of the ones that was played on the air. James Brown’s song “Say It Loud, I am Black and Proud” was the first song on radio telling black people to be proud of their color in a time of intense racism in America. If it was Elvis, the policemen who chased Brown across state lines will have taken his autograph, as a superstar that he was, and let him go, instead of taking him jail. It tells you how bad a country America is for black people.