James Brown

James Brown singing while shadowed people stand in the background

Photo of James Brown performing on the ABC Television program Music Scene. Wikimedia Commons.

(1933-2006) Born in Barnwell, SC, James Joseph Brown was a singer, songwriter, dancer, record producer, and bandleader. The central progenitor of funk music and a major figure of 20th-century music, he is often referred to by the honorific nicknames "Godfather of Soul," "Mr. Dynamite," and "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business."