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James Brown's friends, family hold private farewell service

James Brown's friends, family hold private farewell service

A day after thousands bade a rousing farewell to singer James Brown at Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater in New York, friends and relatives gathered for a more humble memorial service near the place the "Godfather of Soul" called home.
Brown should be remembered for his impact on music and on the world, longtime friend Rev. Al Sharpton said Friday in a passionate eulogy.
"When he started singing, we were sitting in the back of the bus. When he stopped singing, we were flying Lear jets," Sharpton told about 300 mourners during a private funeral service at a tiny red brick church in a neighborhood of dilapidated homes.
Boxing promoter Don King was also present, along with comedian Dick Gregory and singer M.C. Hammer.
More celebrities _ perhaps including Michael Jackson, who was invited _ are expected to attend a public viewing and public funeral service Saturday at the James Brown Arena in Augusta.
Friday's ceremony marked the second day of farewell services for Brown, who died of heart failure Christmas morning at 73.
During a service punctuated by prayers, gospel music and Brown's favorite hymn, "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," mourners clapped, danced and cheered.
But Sharpton had harsh words for people who have put themselves in the spotlight since Brown died. Sharpton did not name names but glanced in the direction of Brown's companion, Tomi Rae Hynie, who was sitting in the front row with her and Brown's 5-year-old son.
Brown's lawyer has said the late singer and the 36-year-old Hynie were not legally married and that she was locked out of his South Carolina home for legal reasons involving Brown's estate. Hynie, one of Brown's backup singers, has said the couple was married and she can prove it.
"If you really are all that you say you are, you don't place yourself in the story, the story puts you in your place," Sharpton said. "We don't want to hear your story or your mess, we're here because of James Brown."
Sharpton also praised the way Brown, who did not have any formal singing education, emerged to change the way music was performed.
"The James Brown that I know, he started singing in the woods of South Carolina," Sharpton said. "What made James Brown so great was his commitment to a beat that some people tried to kill."
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Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister in New York contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-08-01 19:28 GMT+08:00