Deanna Brown-Thomas is a radio & TV personality, actress, entrepreneur, humanitarian and daughter of James Brown. She joined the TJMS crew broadcasting live from Augusta, Georgia, Brown’s hometown to talk about his life and legacy.
The city has erected a statue in his honor, one of the must-sees aside from, of course, the James Brown Museum.
TJMS: How tall is the statue?
Deanna Brown Thomas: It’s man-size. It was his man size. (Laughs.)
How tall was your dad?
Well, that’s why he stood on the stage. He wasn’t a tall man, about 5’7. Big in presence, though. When he came in the room, it was like, whoah.
We know about him as a musician, but what kind of father was he?
He was very strict. He wrote the song “Papa Don’t Take No Mess” but I had to live it. My chores were to water the grass every weekend. We had a lot of grass. I got $3 a week. But he wanted to teach me the essence of hard work. Education is very, very important. That’s why I stepped out on faith and started the James Brown Academy of Music Pupils. Music education had a very special place in his heart.
He had to stop school in 7th grade [because of] insufficient clothing. Pop and Grandma Suey were poor and uneducated. You’re in the segregated South. It was hard, but he never forgot where he came from. So we started the foundation to continue the James Brown turkey giveaway, which we’ll start registering people Saturday and the James Brown toy giveaway. That’s what Dad did. He went right back to the hood and gave out turkeys. He only missed one year. They had booked him to go overseas. He said ‘Don’t eva book me no more during Turkey time, I got to see my people.’ He was serious about that and he instilled that in me.
How’s the movie Get on Up doing?
It’s in New Zealand and it’s opening in the U.K. and in France.
And the documentary Mr. Dynamite?
It premieres on HBO on Monday, October 27 at 9 p.m. I consulted on both projects. Some of the HBO documentary was filmed right here at Imperial theater because they wanted Uncle Danny involved. Uncle Danny, Danny Ray is the cape man, and he is still alive and doing well.
How much is the James Brown catalog worth?
I have no idea. There is a lot of music yet to be released. We do plan on you hearing his music you never got a chance to hear. Daddy kind of changed the funk a little bit in the last 20 years of his life and y’all haven’t really heard that. And we want that to happen and to make his home a museum because people all over the world want to see how the Godfather lived.
Click the link above to hear the entire interview.
(Photo: via Twitter)