Brown died of congestive heart failure on Christmas Day 2006 at age 73. He was born in South Carolina, but moved to Augusta when he was 6. He grew up in his great aunt’s brothel, shining shoes, and singing and dancing for tips on the city’s streets.
“He loved Augusta,” one of his daughters, Dr. Yamma Brown of Atlanta, said during a speaking engagement at Paine College in Augusta. “My father was an extremely humble man. He rode around in the city. He didn’t have a chauffeur. Our father taught us to be humble, to serve others in everything you do.”
Another daughter, Deanna Brown Thomas, still lives in the Augusta area. She is president of the James Brown Family Children Foundation. It organizes annual toy and turkey giveaways and operates programs including J.A.M.P. (James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils), where young people learn to play and perform.
After his death a most lively memorial service was held in the Augusta arena that now bears his name. The late Michael Jackson, Dick Gregory and Rev. Al Sharpton were among those who came to celebrate the life of Brown, laid out in 24-karat gold casket as musical performers rocked the 8,100-seat James Brown Arena.
Today his daughter Dr. Yamma Brown, author of “Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me,” shared some nice photos and a touching holiday message: “On this day nine years ago we lost a dad and husband! The world lost ‘The Godfather of Soul.’ Words can not describe the feelings I feel today but mostly happiness for all the years we spent together! MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MY FAMILY TO YOURS!”