James Brown and Funk

James Brown


Born: May 3, 1933 (Barnwell, South Carolina)

Died: December 25, 2006 (Atlanta, Georgia)

The Beginning of a Legacy: James Brown was arrested for stealing a car, which ultimately leads to him leading a church choir in prison. This is where he met Bobby Byrd. Sometime after their release, Byrd contacted Brown to extend an invite to join an R&B vocal group he had formed, and Brown accepted.

This event marks the point that Brown came into secular music. James Brown went on to write so many songs, each as influential as the last. With his beginnings in Gospel and influence coming from watching pastors preach, Brown created his own style, rooted in his past influences and R&B. Along the way, James Brown also had a hand in the creation of Funk.

The Creation of Funk

Known by some as the “Father of Funk”, Brown certainly was the heaviest influence on the development of this genre. Brown notes that Funk was born with his 1964 album, “Out of Sight”. Within this album was a different sound, a sound that didn’t quite match up to the popular Rythm and Blues–or any genre for that matter. Every aspect of this music had a focus in rhythm instead of melody. in this new style, emphasis would put on the downbeat, as well. James Brown, noted earlier that he was inspired by a sort of “preaching” preformance style, also used phrases that were meant to initiate audience interaction. Out of a combonation of both of these new elements, Funk was established. This music would soon be used as a creative outlet for hardships at the time. Songs like “Say It Loud” are the products of Funk being born in the mid-60s, with the social and politcal climate. James’ techniques have had influences on–not just the genres he created music in–but also current genres. For example, his style shows in songs that have adlibs, like in rap. Brown’s influence lives through many forms of music, making his style everlasting.





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