A group of girlfriends and I had a “movie and lunch” outing to support the movie “Get on Up” – the James Brown Biopic. The movie was awesome and Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal / performance of James Brown was FANTASTIC! The first thing I did when I arrived home after that outing was to order CDs with 50 of James Brown’s songs from Amazon.
This movie reminded me that I was lucky to grow up in the 60’s and 70’s when music included “real” musicians with “real” musical instruments and songs told a story or had a message. I remember how the music of James Brown made us FEEL and MOVE. The pony, the twist and the jerk were some of the dances of my childhood. I know I discovered how my hips could move imitating his girl dancers and dancing to the beat of his music. When he would tell Maceo to “take it to the bridge” no person with ears and rhythm could remain still. You had to move. James Brown and his orchestra gave us “funk” before we had a word for that type of music.
I learned some things about his life that was news to me from the movie. I knew he grew up poor in Georgia but I did not know the full circumstances of his childhood. It was moving to know the obstacles that he overcame in his life to become the musical genius and icon in modern music. We, in the African-American community, will always treasure his contribution to us in claiming our own racial identity as we moved from being Negro to being Black to being African-American. His song, “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” helped us proudly claim what some would have us shun in shame and instilled racial pride in our children. It was beautiful coming from one who had endured so much.
If you haven’t made plans yet, please consider seeing the movie. I plan to purchase it for my movie library when it is released. When my music CDs arrive from Amazon I plan to put Zumba away for a while because I will be able to move to “I Got the Feeling” and “Papa Got a Brand New Bag”!
Here’s a link for those who may need a little reminder of the power of the James Brown’s FUNK: