AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – On a building at the corner of Broad Street and James Brown Boulevard, you’ll see a crew out there during the day, maybe night, creating a mural that pays homage to one of our local musical legends.
“He’s such a world-changing artist. I mean, he’s the ‘Godfather of Soul, Grandfather of Hip-Hop.’ I put my heart and soul into the sketch. I’m a perfectionist. Everything I do, I put a lot into it,” said Cole Phail.
Appling artist and Beech Island native, Cole Phail won the design contest with his “The Spirit of Funk” concept. You can bet he’s a big fan of “Soul Brother No. 1.”
He recalled, “When I was younger I was driving across the Sand Bar Ferry Bridge and going past a car. I looked over and slowed down to let him pass me up again. And it was James Brown. And I waived and he smiled and waved. Typical James Brown smile.”
The public art is being funded by grant money through the Augusta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau with a match from the City of Augusta. Additional investment is from the All In Augusta campaign. It’s been a lengthy process to get everything together.
“We had to make sure we had our contracts signed. We had to do some incentivize with the city to be able to close the street to get the scissor lift up there. So we just kept marching through and soon as we got everything signed sealed and delivered, Cole came on out,” said Brenda Durant, Executive Director of the Greater Augusta Arts Council.
Durant said the James Brown Mural is a start and she hopes to bring more public art into downtown.
She added, “What we’re celebrating is all the good in James Brown and maybe there’s some lessons when you study his history that we can all take to heart. But we are celebrating a man who cared about Augusta. Who cared about equal rights. We really will be watching something grow before our eyes I think it’s an exciting time.”
“Hopefully, it’ll inspire people to come downtown and to give a vision to what is possible down here,” said Phail.
Weather permitting, Phail hopes to complete the James Brown Mural in about two to three months.