In an exclusive interview to promote the upcoming “Soul Power: Live in New York City” event being held on Wednesday, June 25, Deanna Brown-Thomas, daughter of the late, legendary singer James Brown and president of the James Brown Family Children Foundation, talked about her father’s philanthropic legacy and the arts program that has been established from it.
When asked what it was about her father’s philanthropic work that most shaped her, Brown-Thomas shared, “It was little things that I saw him do that stuck with me.” She recounts one incident riding in a limousine with her father in South Central Los Angeles where he told his driver to stop suddenly, approached a group of homeless people, and began to give out money. She shares that his security ran to protect him but he simply stated, “I’m alright.” Contrary to the hysteria, or worse, that security may have anticipated, Deanna remembers people truly being elated to see the James Brown approaching them. She also remembers her father saying to people, “Look brother take this money, and go do something for yourself.” And she adds, “It was him giving people that message of hope, without any cameras or paparazzi around, and seeing that first-hand that made me realize how important it was to give back.”
Brown-Thomas says her father’s “give back spirit” was fashioned from his childhood experiences with poverty; including being a child with many dreams and aspirations but having to drop out of school in the seventh grade. Knowing that both music education and children had a special place in her father’s heart, Deanna collaborated with several educators and musicians to develop the accredited music arts program J.A.M.P. – James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils. The program was designed not only to teach music education and theory, but to provide and foster the principle of discipline within students to help prepare them for real-life experiences.
On Wednesday night, J.A.M.P. will celebrate its CD release party in New York City with a talent showcase that will be attended by industry executives, recording artists, and feature celebrity guest judges - including special guest Ron Grant, of the popular Village Underground open mic series. Additional details are listed on the James Brown Family Children Foundation's official website at jamesbrownfamilyfdn.org.
Endearingly known around the world as the “Godfather of Soul,” James Brown is unquestionably one of the most influential, and admired, artists of the last century. The Mick Jagger produced biopic “Get On Up,” starring Chadwick Boseman, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis, is scheduled to open in theaters on August 1.