The James Brown I Remember

August 6, 2014 9:59 PM

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That evening at a concert in the late 1960s, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, was memorable. The performer was James Brown. And as always, he was the usual frenetic, non-stop, consummate singer, entertainer, and showman. I and the hundreds of others at the concert had come to know Brown for that and expected that high energy in his concerts. But in between the wild applause that night there were a few scattered boos from some in the mostly black crowd who believed that Brown was a sellout and an Uncle Tom for his seeming endorsement of the Vietnam War and traveling to Vietnam at the behest of the reviled President Lyndon Johnson to entertain the troops.

The mild hostility from some didn't last long. Brown had just the right tonic to cure that. He launched into a rhythmic, gyrating, full blast shout of what had by then become one of his signature pieces, "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud." The crowd went nuts. Brown had gotten them, him and me b...

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