Musicheads Essential Artist: James Brown

James Brown performs in Edinburgh, 2005.
James Brown performs in Edinburgh, 2005. (MJ Kim/Getty Images)
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Hailed as the Godfather of Soul, James Brown was a funk pioneer.

Up until that point, R&B and soul songs were primarily known for their catchy melodies and gospel-inspired chord changes. "Cold Sweat" and other late '60s tracks like "Give It Up" or "Turn It Loose" and "Funky Drummer"...the funk grooves crafted by James Brown and his band are some of the most recognizable in modern music.

Brown started his career as a gospel singer in Georgia. Like many gospel artists of the era, he found himself drawn to the new secular style of vocal harmony driven R&B. Performing with a group called the Famous Flames, his 1958 song "Try Me" would be his first number one on the R&B charts and the first of 17 number one hits he would release in his career.

By the mid '60s, Brown had crossed over to the pop charts with enduring classics like "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World" and his best-known song, "I Got You (I Feel Good)."

His elaborate stage shows, tightly rehearsed live bands, and intense marathon performances raised the bar for what a live concert experience could be, and earned James Brown the nicknames "Mr. Dynamite," "Soul Brother Number One," and eventually "the Godfather of Soul."

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