Lankford, Ronald D., Jr. Proud: The story of James Brown. Morgan Reynolds 2014 128 $29.00 ISBN 978-1-59935-3746 jr/sr series: Modern Music Masters Biography E-BN
James Brown was born in Barnwell, South Carolina, but was raised in Augusta, Georgia, and it was from there that he entered the world of music. His first instrument was a harmonica his father gave him. Later he learned to play other instruments from local musicians. He was musically gifted, and church played an important part in his life because of the music and religious teaching.
Poverty also played an important part in his life, and he encountered trouble as he entered his teens, until his music became the most important part of his life. James Brown broke into the music world and he was exceptional, but his music was also different from anything ever heard in the world of white people. His music broke the color barrier and opened the door for soul music.
His live recording of his concert at the Apollo Theater in 1962 in Harlem, New York, was a ground breaker and surpassed any expectations in the music world. The album sold millions of copies, and it is now listed number 25 on the list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
This is a surprising biography, well written and inspiring. It is a “must read” and should be an important part of any African-American history curriculum.
Other titles in the series Modern Music Masters include Leonard Bernstein and American Music, Say It With Music: The Story of Irving Berlin, Uh Huh!: The Story of Ray Charles, Reggae Poet: The Story of Bob Marley, and Spin: The Story of Michael Jackson. If all the biographies are written as well as the James Brown story, it will be a “must” to have them in the library. This book in particular should be part of the African-American history collection.
Summary: A child born in poverty rises to become a man who revolutionizes the music world while contributing to the Civil Rights Movement through his songs and concerts.
James Brown, 1933-2006. –Magna Diaz