It was only fitting that James Brown’s funeral turned into a concert
Saturday afternoon (December 30) as he was laid to rest in his hometown
of Augusta, Georgia.
More than 8,000 people – Brown’s family, friends and fans –
watched from the floor of James Brown Arena as the singer’s celebrity
friends including Michael Jackson, MC Hammer and Bootsy Collins gave
tribute onstage at the public “homegoing” service for the singer, who
died of congestive heart failure early Monday morning .
Although Reverend Al Sharpton – who said the iconic musician
was like a father to him – gave a stirring sermon, the “Godfather of
Soul” was best remembered at the ceremony through his songs.
A videotape of one of Brown’s concerts – where he performed
selections including “Georgia on My Mind” – was played. Later in the
service, Brown’s own Soul Generals band performed songs including “Sex
Machine” while various people sang, Brown’s former bandmate Bootsy
Collins joined in on bass and Hammer danced. At the end of “Sex
Machine,” Brown’s famous cape was laid upon his casket just as it was
laid across his back so many times during his concerts.
During Sharpton’s sermon, the reverend revealed his last
conversation with Brown, during which the “Godfather of Soul” told him
that there was a need for performers such as Michael Jackson to keep
making positive music for all people.
Jackson himself stepped up to the podium and said that he was inspired by Brown from an early age.
“James Brown is my greatest inspiration,” Jackson said. “When I
saw him move, I was mesmerized. … I never saw a performer move like
James Brown. … James Brown, I shall miss you, and I love you so much.
Thank you for everything.”
The service was the third memorial in as many days for Brown,
who was honored with a public viewing at New York’s Apollo Theater on
Thursday , and a private ceremony for family and close friends in
Georgia on Friday.