(WJBF) - During Black History Month, News Channel 6 takes a look back at the achievements made by African Americans. We are also taking a look at how a couple of music legends paved the way for their daughters to forge ahead and keep their dreams alive.
Although small in stature, James Brown became a big success through his music and messages. A major feat for the man, born dead, who gave life to a genre of music. "When my dad was born he wasn't breathing. They had to breath life into him. So, whatever God had planned he put it in my dad," explains Deanna Brown Thomas. That plan included hit, after hit, after hit. Over time, he amassed worldwide fame and became known for his elaborate costumes and dynamic moves on stage.
After the lights deemed on his shows, some of Mr. Brown's best performances were not musical. "He never forgot where he came from he would reach back and would help those and that is important to know that as big as you can get you don't get so big that you can't come back and help those that didn't get the opportunities and chance that you get," says his daughter. When it came to the art of giving, Mr. Brown's biggest acts of kindness happened far from the stage. "It wasn't about just his name and putting his name out there for a naming opportunity. It was truly about helping people." That desire gave birth to the annual James Brown turkey giveaways at Thanksgiving and the toy giveaways at Christmas. Now, long after his death, daughter Deanna Brown Thomas continues the legacy set forth by her legendary father. She says, "it ain't about Deanna. It ain't about what Deanna is even doing. It's the power of that music. It's the spirit of the music. It's the spirit that God gave Dad and he put in that music and it resonates with them, mind body and soul."
Through her philanthropy, Deanna also started J.A.M.P which stands for the James Brown Academy of Music Pupils. Now in its seventh year, the organization continues building upon the foundation of music that was originally poured by James Brown. "These students have learned his music, learning to read music and being able to take the message that's in the music and go to the next generation."
Deanna not only uses her father's fame, but examples of his flaws as instruments to keep them in tune and on the right path. "I had my ups and downs with my dad as we do with our parents from time to time. It wasn't always perfect." She continues, "even though he has his faults and his flaws, like we all do, he still rose above those not even being fully educated." What he lacked in education he gained through street knowledge and continues to fuel a drive in his daughter as well as those who knew him.
Mr. Brown's influence has spun its way into the life of Noura Gordon. She is the daughter of local music store owner and D-J legend Flash Gordon. "This is what I'm familiar with. This is all I know," smiles Gordon.
Her father was a long time Program Director for James Brown's radio stations. For 47 years, his store, Pyramid Records, has provided rhythm, soul and more for generations of music lovers. One song at a time, his love of music created a special beat in Noura's heart. She explains, "it means everything to me. It means that I have a chance to be apart of something that's way bigger than me. A part of music, a part of culture and that's timeless."
Noura is not only continuing her father's legacy through the record store. She is making a name for herself nationally through her skills on the ones and twos. "I'm in a DJ crew. I started my own female DJ crew. We're the El Dorado hotties."
As the daughter of legends, there are no guidebooks. There are no rules. But, for Deanna Brown Thomas, there's just a passion to continue the mission, music and messages of a man who was born with so little but gave the world so much. "He gave hope where there was no hope. Because he was once one who didn't have hope. But it was a spirit that God placed in him. He was not perfect. But he worked hard and he gave," Deanna Brown Thomas explains as tears stream down her face.
Deanna Brown Thomas shares her father's memories and continues his giving through the James Brown Foundation. For more information, go to www.JamesBrownFamilyfdn.org
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