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The one : the life and music of James Brown
2012
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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Drawing on in-depth interviews with Brown's many friends and music partners, journalist Smith powerfully chronicles Brown's rapid rise from his early days in Augusta, Ga., singing gospel through the pinnacle of his fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s to Brown's sharp fall from grace in the 1990s with headline-grabbing arrests for domestic battery. Brown loved the spectacle of religion that the famous religious itinerant preacher, Daddy Grace, put on at the United House of Prayer in Augusta, and he learned rhythm from the house band there. Later, in his own shows, Brown got so caught up in the spectacle of entertaining that he became a force unto himself whose hungry passion and energy—expressed forcefully and fitfully through his trembling dancing and call-and response singing—transformed his audiences. Brown's music still sounds so alive and continues to mystify because Brown brought others into a world he created that made his art a total experience. Through the pulsing rhythms of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," the funky, hypnotic beat of "(Get on the) Good Foot," and the Black Power anthem, "Say It Loud," Brown, as Smith demonstrates, reshaped rhythm and blues, pumping it full of an energy that moved listeners to ecstasy. Smith's compelling and detailed portrait of one of our greatest musicians reveals affectionately and honestly the reasons we jump up every time "I Feel Good" comes on the radio. (Mar.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

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A tribute to the life and achievements of the "Godfather of Soul" covers his unconventional youth in a segregated South, his complicated family life, and his work as a civil rights advocate and entrepreneur. - (Baker & Taylor)

An all-encompassing tribute to the life and achievements of the "Godfather of Soul" draws on interviews with more than 100 people who knew him personally or played with him professionally, providing coverage of such topics as his unconventional youth in a segregated South, his complicated family life and his work as a Civil Rights advocate and entrepreneur. 40,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

The definitive biography of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, with fascinating findings on his life as a Civil Rights activist, an entrepreneur, and the most innovative musician of our time

Playing 350 shows a year at his peak, with more than forty Billboard hits, James Brown was a dazzling showman who transformed American music. His life offstage was just as vibrant, and until now no biographer has delivered a complete profile. The One draws on interviews with more than 100 people who knew Brown personally or played with him professionally. Using these sources, award-winning writer RJ Smith draws a portrait of a man whose twisted and amazing life helps us to understand the music he made.

The One delves deeply into the story of a man who was raised in abject-almost medieval-poverty in the segregated South but grew up to earn (and lose) several fortunes. Covering everything from Brown's unconventional childhood (his aunt ran a bordello), to his role in the Black Power movement, which used "Say It Loud (I'm Black and Proud)" as its anthem, to his high-profile friendships, to his complicated family life, Smith's meticulous research and sparkling prose blend biography with a cultural history of a pivotal era.

At the heart of The One is Brown's musical genius. He had crucial influence as an artist during at least three decades; he inspires pity, awe, and revulsion. As Smith traces the legend's reinvention of funk, soul, R&B, and pop, he gives this history a melody all its own.

- (Penguin Putnam)

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