Letter: James Brown deserves some mercy
There is a long list of artists and performers who have tapped their unique, God-given talents and worked tirelessly to bring amazing entertainment to the world, and all along the way have had to fight personal demons. I believe James Brown is one of those artists.
In his recent letter to the Steamboat Pilot & Today, Chris Ricks gives us a litany of Mr. Brown’s failings and misdeeds. If a human being is nothing more than a sum total of his or her transgressions, then God help us all.
James Brown was born into abject poverty. He was abandoned by his mother, abused by his father and, ultimately, at a very tender age, given over to a relative who ran a house of prostitution. It’s incredible he survived this horrendous childhood, but then to rise to the heights of achievement as a musical innovator, speaks to a very strong spirit.
I’m not making excuses for Mr. Brown’s behavior; he was responsible for his actions, but I did want to inject some charity where I feel it has been lacking. As a child, no one wanted him — as a famous adult, everybody wanted a piece of him — throngs of people cheered for him as an entertainer, but yet, he had to drink from a designated water fountain because of his race. I can only imagine the conflict within, exacerbated by the use of pills and alcohol to cope.
I was on the bridge back in the early ’90s when Mr. Brown came to Steamboat Springs to dedicate the “James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge.” There was an electricity in the air, and the crowd was pumped as we awaited the arrival of “The Godfather of Soul.” James Brown was gracious, humble and so appreciative that we would honor him this way and stayed for awhile to meet people and sign autographs.
He always gave his fans his all, and that day on the bridge, we let him know we loved him. My prayer for him is what I want for all humanity: divine mercy and perfect peace when life on earth is done.
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