James Brown: Reinventing American Popular Music
James Brown, known as “The Godfather of Soul, is recognized as one of the most influential figures in 20th century popular music. Brown was a pivotal force in the music industry. He left his mark on numerous artists and his music left its mark on the rhythms of American pop music and provided a template for the most important genre of dance music- Soul and Funk music.
By mid-1960s, James Brown had developed his signature groove that emphasized the downbeat – with heavy emphasis on the first beat of every measure to etch his distinctive sound, rather than the backbeat that typified African American music. Two of Brown’s signature tunes Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag and I Got You (I Feel Good), both from 1965, were his first Top 10 pop hits, as well as major #1 R&B hits, with each remaining the top-selling singles in black venues for over a month. Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag is widely considered the first recording to showcase what later became Brown’s signature musical style, and marks the beginning of the development of the musical genre of funk. In 2004, Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag was ranked number 72 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.