December 30, 2006
AUGUSTA, Ga.---It was an extraordinary afternoon filled with music, tears, laughter and praise as Augusta and the world saluted the Godfather of Soul--James Brown--at his homegoing celebration.
It was a star-studded affair, and a day full of performances. But mostly, it was a day for thousands to pay their respects to the James Brown.
"James Brown is a winner," said Rev. Jesse Jackson. "He put dignity above dollars, and did not follow a path--he blazed a trail. He did not follow opinion polls, he molded opinion. He would say, 'Cross over to me. I am the real thing. Don't give me nothing. Open the door to determination. I'm black and I'm proud.'"
Among all of the other guests was a family in mourning: James Brown's four grown children, Daryl, Deanna, Yamma, and Venisha were all present. They had a chance to say some words on their father's behalf, and to express their love and thanks to the city of Augusta. They took the opportunity to thank friends of James Brown, including Rev. Al Sharpton, for their support.
The service today looked more like a concert at times than it did a funeral, with all of the Godfather's most famous songs performed by his band the Soul Generals and musicians like M.C. Hammer and Derrick Monk. Bootsy Collins of Parliament Funkadelic had this to say on the passing of a legend:
"It's kind of like you know it's happened, and I'm trying to grab it. It's something like you just can't believe it, and then like you know it's happening and then I'm not never at a loss for words. I'm like, I don't even know what to say because I don't know...I don't even feel like it's happened."
For a moment it looked as if Michael Jackson, who attended the services, would perform, but he refused.
Amid the questions surrounding their marriage, Brown's widow Tomi Rae was at the arena today and involved in the service. After the service, Tomi Rae spoke with News 12 about the day's events.
"I thought my husband looked wonderful and peaceful," she said. "I know his spirit is with me, and it felt so good to be with the band on stage. I'm just blessed to be here."
Tomi Rae Brown took the stage with Bittersweets, Brown's back-up group, and took center stage performing "Hold On, I'm Coming".