Reference Entry

Brown, James

Barry Kernfeld

in American National Biography Online

Published online April 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI:

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  • Musical Structures, Styles, and Techniques
  • Composition


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Brown, James (03 May 1933–25 December 2006), soul singer, dancer, songwriter, and bandleader, was born in Barnwell, South Carolina, the son of Joe Gardner, an itinerant laborer, and Susie Behling. In his first autobiography he explains that his father took the surname Brown from the woman who raised him, and he claims that his own name was James Joe Junior Brown, then James Joe Brown, Jr., and finally, James Brown. But his birth certificate gives Joseph James Brown. He was raised mainly by his father in a physically abusive relationship, and by his father’s aunt Minnie Walker. His mother was present intermittently, apparently driven away by his father’s beatings. This was a pattern that Brown himself would reproduce in countless relationships with women....

Reference Entry.  2118 words. 

Subjects: Musical Structures, Styles, and Techniques ; Composition

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