Producers of a new film based on the incredible life story of James Brown give audiences a fearless look inside the music, moves and moods of the legendary “Godfather of Soul.”
The film, “Get on Up,” stars Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jill Scott and Dan Aykroyd.
Director Tate Taylor says the 96-minute film from Imagine Entertainment helps to reaffirm why many considered Brown, “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.”
The singer always committed to hitting the right notes on and off stage and more than a few stars followed Brown’s lead, according to Taylor.
“Look at those he influenced,” said the late singer’s daughter, Deanna Brown Thomas. “The Maceo Parkers, Fred Wesleys, George Clintons. I believe it’s important to remember the hard work dad put in and the fact that he’s so revered for his work is so remarkable.”
When Michael Jackson presented Brown with a lifetime achievement honor at the 2003 BET Awards, the King of Pop acknowledged that much of his creativity stemmed from watching the Godfather of Soul.
“I got it from you, you, you!” said Jackson, who died after suffering cardiac arrest in 2009.
Brown died in 2006 at the age of 73, but left an indelible impression on the music industry.
From the 1950s onward, he mesmerized audiences with such hits as, “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “Get Up, Get On Up,” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” and, “Say it Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud).”
Boseman, who won acclaim in 2013 for his portrayal of the late baseball Hall of Fame star, Jackie Robinson, says portraying the singer proved to be a dream come true.
With producers Mick Jagger and Brian Grazer, Taylor and Boseman met with Brown Thomas and other members of the late entertainer’s family.
“My father’s story is an American story, not just an African-American one,” Brown Thomas said. “He had a dream like any other young child and he went through some tough times because he was poor. But, it is important for us to keep his legacy and share the richness of his life.”
The movie opens with Brown at six years old, abandoned by his mother and left to live with his Aunt Honey, who runs a brothel. “There is a lot of pain in this movie, but as James says, take what’s bad and flip it on its head and make it work for you,” Taylor said.
Born in South Carolina on May 3, 1933, Brown left school after seventh grade to help support the family.
In 1955, he joined, “The Gospel Starlighters,” a group that eventually renamed itself, “The Famous Flames.” The group moved to Macon, Georgia, where they eventually opened for such legends as B.B. King and Ray Charles.
Ultimately, the group would go on to record the hit song, “Please, Please, Please,” which became Brown’s first big single. A bevy of hits would follow, including songs like, “Try Me,” “Night Train,” “Papa’s Gotta Brand New Bag,” and many others that cemented Brown as the “Hardest Working Man in Show Business.”
His catalogue of hits also included, “The Big Payback,” “Sex Machine”
and “Living in America.”
Jackson, the late Jimi Hendrix and Prince all counted Brown as a primary influence on their stellar careers.
Brown’s music has been sampled more than any other artist and his estate remains bombarded with requests from hip-hop and other singers to use his songs.
“I believe the movie is going to be one of those films to impact future generations because Dad touched so many people,” Brown Thomas said. “His music has been a beacon to people all over the world.”