Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Many Faces of Legend James Brown on Display at SCSU's Stanback Museum

I really enjoy taking my classes to the I.P. Stanback Museum for its amazing James Brown exhibit. The legendary singer and performer known by several nicknames- "The Godfather of Soul," "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business," "Soul Brother Number One" and "Mr. Dynamite," among others- passed in 2006 (on Christmas Day) at age 73.

But his legacy and influence live on in colorful, tangible forms- his costumes, shoes, furniture, and vast hair product- in this well-designed and organized display at the museum. The exhibit is officially titled, "The Influence of James Brown: His Imprint on Music, Dance, Style and Politics."

South Carolina State University is one of a few institutions to be selected by the legal system, amid contentious Brown estate battles that have waged for year, as depositories of his belongings. The Stanback Museum staff has done an outstanding job of representing the legendary artist's many faces, dimensions and influences (Michael Jackson, Usher, Prince and Mick Jagger each call Brown an important influence in their own styles and artistry).

Michael Cassidy (pictured right), the museum's installation manager, gave us an insightful tour. He and fellow guide Davion Petty share with visitors many stories for Brown's storied career, which was recently featured in the 2014 film, "Get On Up" starring South Carolina native Chadwick Boseman as "Mr. Dynamite" himself.

The Stanback Museum's Facebook site includes an interesting link to a Huffington Post article titled "5 Ways James Brown Made An Impact on American Culture."

The piece describes Brown's lasting influence in this areas: social activism, politics, music, education and style.

The museum's Michael Cassidy attempted to sum up the exhibit's tribute to James Brown in Vine's very limited six second forum:

A quote on the wall caught my eye as nicely articulating Brown's legendary fashion sense and style. It's from singer, producer, rapper and DJ Mayer Hawthorne: "James Brown's the perfect example of flashy but classy. Classy does not have to mean boring. His gear was flamboyant but without being so over the top."

Catch it while you can! South Carolina State's James Brown exhibit continues until August. Call the I.P. Stanback Museum for hours and tour information at 803.536.7000 or 1.800.260.5956.

Finally, while I'm no experiment the hundreds of songs James Brown wrote and recorded during his long, distinguished career. The exhibit here on campus has inspired me to listen to him more. I have a James Brown Pandora station, for example. My favorite song of his is clearly this one: "Cold Sweat." Check out him performing this classic from 1967! 

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