James Brown

James Brown (1978)

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Themes: Musical Roots and Branches |

Guests: James Brown
Host : Ron Scott
Producer : Ron Scott


Summary: James Brown has been a powerful figure on the music scene since the 1950s. This 1978 program, with host Ron Scott, consists of an interview with Brown that examines some of his personal history and his objectives as a musical artist.

Brown talks about the difficulties of his early life. He only went to school through 7th grade but he says the lack of education also ensured that he would learn about life through experience. "I know the whole thing and I'm glad I know it," he says. "I have a 7th grade education formally but a doctor's degree in the street. I know what it's about."

Before his musical success, he says, he worked at a lot of hard, low-paying jobs, such as shining shoes and picking cotton. But at the time interview, he owned three radio stations and was producing his own syndicated television show.

Brown startles Scott by announcing it is his 45th birthday, rising from his chair and launching into a series of dance moves that included dropping to his knees and popping back up to his feet. Scott asks how Brown can keep doing that kind of thing at his age. Brown responds that he feels a sense of responsibility to his audience because of the opportunities he's had. "I owe it to the people, and I especially owe it to the poor people," he says. "I owe it to the ghetto and I even owe it to the rich ignorant people that don't know the truth."

The last third of the program is a preview of programs that Detroit Black Journal planned to present in coming weeks. The preview includes video clips of a jazz ensemble called Griot Galaxy, that was to perform live in the studio the following week, and excerpts from a documentary on Malcolm X scheduled for the week after that.

This program offers an interesting look at James Brown as well as some perspective on the range of topics covered by the Detroit Black Journal series.