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Catalog Data

Milton Williams, born 20 May 1940  Search this
James Brown, 5 Mar 1933 - 25 Dec 2006  Search this
Gelatin silver print
Image: 35.2 x 23.5 cm (13 7/8 x 9 1/4")
Sheet: 35.2 x 28 cm (13 7/8 x 11")
Mat (Verified): 55.9 x 40.6 cm (22 x 16")
Exhibition Label:
Born Barnwell, South Carolina
Called “the Godfather of Soul,” James Brown developed a trademark stage show featuring a twenty-piece band and backup singers. His signature sound showcased staccato horns, big bass, and as one critic wrote, “an ability to ‘scream’ on key.”
His high-energy performances became the touchstone for other performers of his generation: Brown would grab the microphone stand, slide into a split, pop back up, pirouette, and then alternate pulsating knee landings with flashing footwork until he collapsed in a heap. His singers would drape a cape over him and begin to carry him offstage when—presto! He would throw off the cape and take his performance into an even higher gear.
Brown’s biggest hits included “Night Train,” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” and “Living in America.” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Equipment\Sound Devices\Microphone  Search this
Interior\Performing Arts\Theatrical\Stage  Search this
Music\Musical instrument\Drum  Search this
James Brown: Male  Search this
James Brown: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Songwriter  Search this
James Brown: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer\Popular  Search this
James Brown: Performing Arts\Performer\Dancer  Search this
James Brown: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer\Rhythm and Blues  Search this
James Brown: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Bandmaster  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the photographer, Milton Williams
Object number:
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery