James Brown: The Rest of the Story
By David Stokes
To the general public at-large, he was famously known as the "Godfather of Soul" or even the "Godfather of Funk". To his close friends and associates, along with some family, he was known as "Mr. Brown," in some cases, as well as "James" and "Daddy". However, to his four—or three, maybe—official wives, James Joseph Brown, Jr. was simply "James" or "Mr. Brown" -- and as a suburban Atlanta female who knew Brown intimately described during an exclusive interview last week with The Inquirer, "James Brown was an intimate man who knew how to treat a woman, and he respected and loved those who treated him the same way."
As " 'Get On Up,' The James Brown Story" premiered on Friday, August 1, in theatres nationwide, Brown's children, close associates and friends awaited its debut with anxiety and sheer excitement. While Brown's oldest daughter, DeAnna, helped gear the movie's production and release, which was executive produced by longtime musician and contemporary Mick Jagger, the two-and-a-half hour film teetered around other significant facets of the life of James Brown, who was born in South Carolina, on May 3, 1933, including the off-and-on close friendship/relationship with Josie Dean, the Conyers, Ga. female who nearly married Brown in 2006, yet was involved with him the last 13 years of his turbulent life, from 1993 to 2006. Ms. Dean, a well-dressed, outgoing and most personable and attractive lady who is now 55 years old, is a dynamic cosmetologist and daycare professional by trade who toils in the halls of her county government center, in Rockdale and previously in DeKalb counties, "to help those learn the government when they can't achieve it themselves." A 1990s graduate of DeKalb's Neighborhood Leadership Institute, Ms. Dean held on to the private side of life with Brown "until I felt God (told) me now is the right time (alongside the "Get On Up" debut)." An Augusta, Ga. native who was born June 28, 1959, Ms. Dean otherwise had no idea the life she'd eventually lead would have experiences centered around 'the Godfather of Soul,' she relayed during a recent four hour interview. Nevertheless, "while everybody came to know him as the 'Godfather of Soul,' I knew him as a gentleman's gentleman and the intimate man he was," Ms. Dean proclaimed. Initially, she remembers meeting Brown, at age nine, at a children's show in downtown Augusta, in which she was "dressed up like a church girl with all the finery, while the other kids wore jeans and cowboy boots." Fast forward 25 years later, when at 34, Ms. Dean reminisces, she indicated Brown had personal troubles, and "I walked up to him ...to say I'll pray for him, and concluded, 'if you need a good woman, look me up'." That was 1993. The following year, Ms. Dean divorced her first husband and, according to the five feet, three inches, somewhat frenetic citizen-activist, James Brown also called to ask if she would accompany him on a concert trip to Montreal, in Canada. The trip, originally intended for two weekends, concluded after "almost six weeks," thereby, developing into a "deep love (affair). We only got out of bed for food and trips to the bathroom the whole time," Ms. Dean chuckled. "James Brown was just as great in bed as he was on the stage! Talk about get on the 'good foot'. He could make your toes twinkle and curl up with the knock-out sex; whew! He knew how to treat a woman!"
While "Get On Up" shows remnants of Brown's first wife, Velma, it is his second wife—and DeAnna's mother—Dee (exceptionally portrayed by singer-actress Jill Scott) who's featured prominently throughout the 150 minutes movie. However, in late 1994, after Dee, and two years before third wife Adrienne, with the affection a two-way street, Brown is now introducing Ms. Dean to all as "his fiancee'," she said. However, Brown married Adrienne, although she died in 1996—and the Dean-Brown relationship was rekindled once more, when, in the same year, at his 63rd birthday party in which various NFL players were invited, "he tongue kisses me in front of everybody ... and we start dating heavily." In 1997, one year prior to Brown co-starring in "The Blues Brothers" with Dan Akyroyd, Ms. Dean and Brown traveled to Las Vegas—at his invitation—which ultimately led to arguments, initiated by his PCP drug usage, she relayed, along with Brown's jealousy of her conversations with Ron Isley of The Isley Brothers at a hotel gathering. "You got one star, why you need to talk to another one," Ms. Dean remembers Brown yelling to her. The blow-up eventually leads to her altogether "leaving (Brown) at the hotel to go back home (to Augusta). I never was so happy to see an airplane; I arrived to Las Vegas in first-class, but went home in coach, all the way in the back," she laughed. Still, the love is ongoing between the two, and in 1999, Ms. Dean said, "James Brown asks, 'do you want to marry me now or marry me for the long haul'?" Needless to say, the marriage didn't occur "due to the constant (PCP) drugs he was using." Furthermore, after Ms. Dean catches her flight back to Atlanta for Augusta, fourth wife Tommie Rae enters the picture, she indicated. For the next seven years, until his death in 2006 on Christmas Day while visiting Atlanta for a dentist's appointment, Brown and Ms. Dean are intermittently "dating off-and-on" as he endures "numerous separations" from the last wife, as well as "helping her constantly with her drug rehabilitation to get herself right". Recounting his errors as it related to personal tribulations, James Brown would telephone Ms. Dean, several months prior to his Christmastime demise, asking "for my hand in marriage, saying to me, 'everybody tried to break us up: my kids, friends and family, but they don't care nothing about me, but you do'." She continued, "He loved me ...as I did him. I was in love with James Brown because he knew how to treat a woman, and he brought out the queen in me." Furthermore, Brown is portrayed and seen in "Get On Up" as hitting wife Dee (played by Ms, Scott) after a Christmas outing for children in Augusta. "He never hit me nor beat me. That was another James Brown of another time, just had to be," Ms. Dean exclaimed. "But he did torture me with the other women," she chuckled. She then indicated in a melancholy tone, looking downward, "I still love him to this day. I went beyond (his) money and just loved him for him. Ours was a love story within a love story, and he was a lovable person." Ms. Dean also comments "enjoying the (biopic)," seeing it twice on its opening day; however, she stated another film is in order to "get all of the facts of his life shown" for public consumption. Four hours later, nonetheless, after a vegetable plate lunch and iced tea at a DeKalb Co. eatery, she invited a reporter to her ranch-style home in Conyers to view James Brown memorabilia she has had packed away from her volatile 13 year relationship, including the Brown funeral program and memorial program, various autographed pictures to her by Brown, a silk navy shirt safely tucked in a cosmetics bag, a pair of Brown's silk red underwear, a pair of Brown's socks, even some of Brown's sperm, Ms. Dean declared, situated on cardboard and other pictures taken with Brown, and trikets from other of his various outings and trips rendered following a five decade entertainment career. Today, nearly eight years after his death, all is not well with Brown's offspring, in particular, as they battle for control of his tens—possibly "hundreds of millions" of dollars left behind and other Brown valuables. Also, James Brown remains entombed on oldest daughter DeAnna's front yard in South Carolina, Ms. Dean said, which is another bone of contention between the offspring, while lawyers continue to attempt to determine Brown's rightful heirs to his fortune (excluding DeAnna and oldest son Terry) by way of blood tests—to no avail (at presstime). According to Ms. Dean, additionally, Brown "always said that Darryl and Yamma are not his children." That remains to be seen, while twelve other children are noted, including James Brown III, now 13 (his mother/fourth wife Tommie Rae has stated), as are 16 grandchildren. "James Brown always wanted his money to go to his grandchildren, not the children," Ms. Dean exclaimed while re-entering memorabilia back into a large suitcase in an upstairs, second floor bedroom. While court battles persist by Brown's offspring, Ms. Dean moves forward to tell her story and chronicle her times with the Godfather of Soul in literary form and, possibly, her own biopic. "There is much more that needs to be told of James Brown. What we see in the film is only a snippet of the real James Brown," Ms. Dean said. "He was a kind and gentle man who wanted to love and spread good music for everybody to enjoy. James Brown was a music genius, and he knew those lyrics. He was a genius when it came to his music; he brought some good music ("Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud," "I Feel Good," the "Sex Machine" single and album, et al.) and entertainment to the world, and if nothing else, he can never—he must never—be forgotten for that."
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Fulton County Youth Receive School Supplies As Costs Rise
Shopping for back to school supplies can present challenges for parents trying to make ends meet and the outlook is not improving. Huntingdon Bank’s Annual Backpack Index reports double digit increases in school supply costs.
As Fulton County, Atlanta and other metro Atlanta schools prepare to open for the fall, Fulton County Commission Chairman John H. Eaves, the Fulton County Office of Children and Youth and Fulton County Health and Wellness sponsored a back to school event on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, to help parents to obtain needed school supplies. The event held at Atlanta Technical College featured school supply giveaways and free haircuts along with information and education. Hundreds of parents and caregivers along with their children took advantage of the event to help with their school costs.
The event attracted 500 participants with 224 children receiving haircuts and 300 taking home school supplies.
“I hope our efforts will help these young people and their parents prepare to start a productive new school year on the right note”, said Chairman Eaves, adding “Many of them now have some of the tools they need to do their best in the classroom.”
According to the Huntingdon Bank’s Annual Backpack Index, parents can expect to see the following costs compared to 2013:
* $642.00 for elementary school children, an 11 percent increase
* $918.00 for middle school children, a 20 percent increase
* $1,284 for high school students, a 5 percent hike
The Backpack Index attributes most of the cost increases to the following:
* Increased fees for standardized testing
* Field trips and pay to play fees
* Gym uniform fees
The Index also reports that some schools are requiring students to buy their computer tablets because more schools are using tablets in the classroom.
The Fulton County Office of Children and Youth provides services throughout the year to help parents/guardians to provide children with information and resources to help them succeed in school. Tutorial Assistance is provided to children enrolled in Fulton County programs such as Kinship Care and START (Services to Reach and Teach).
Other programs offered include Teen DADS (Determined, Active, Dedicated, Supportive), the Fulton County Youth Commission, Priceless University, Youth Leadership Academy for Boys and Youth Leadership Academy for Girls.
The following money-saving strategies are offered to by Atlanta Communities in Schools for parents still in need of supplies for their children:
* Recycle folders, backpacks and other items from previous school years
* Organize a swap with neighbors of new or gently used school supplies
* Check with community organizations to determine if donated items are available
* Shop for school supplies during Georgia’s tax-free weekend (August 1 -2, 2014)
* Compare prices on supplies at various retail stores
“For parents in our county, the tax-free weekend and seasonal discounts combine to provide an excellent opportunity to stock up on what your children need with your budget in mind”, says Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves.
For more information about community partners, services and resources offered through Fulton County, call Fulton County Health and Human Services at 404-613-7944.