James Brown Documentary Coming to A&E

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A&E Network has greenlit a four-part documentary James Brown: Say It Loud (working title), exploring the entertainment icon’s legacy as a musical force, cultural catalyst, and dominant Black creative voice. The documentary event delves into the dynamic entertainer’s life and sound that was as innovative as it was influential. Exploring his legacy through exclusive interviews with friends, family, collaborators and proteges as well as his beloved music catalog, the documentary also includes never-before-seen archival footage. The documentary will premiere on A&E in 2023 timed to what would have been the so-called Godfather of Soul’s 90th birthday. The series is directed by Deborah Riley Draper and executive produced by, among others, Mick Jagger and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.

“I am thrilled to be producing the four part documentary series with A&E delving into the fascinating life of James Brown,” said Jagger in the Feb. 25, 2022 announcement. “He was a brilliant performer who inspired me from the beginning and was deeply committed to the Civil Rights movement. I have always admired James and learned so much from him. I look forward to bringing the series to life.”

“The life of James Brown is significant not only to understand his immense musical impact, which inspires us and other artists to this day, but also for the deep and lasting impression he has had on American culture,” said executive producers “Questlove” and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter. “Brown’s life is a crucial and timely story of struggle, redemption, and self-identity and we are honored to have the chance to share it.”

The docu-series’ working title references Brown’s 1968 funk song, “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” which held the #1 spot on the R&B singles chart for six weeks and also reached the Top 10 on the Hot 100.

From the announcement: Across four hours, James Brown: Say it Loud traces the intense highs and lows of Brown’s life and career from a seventh grade drop-out arrested for armed robbery in the Jim Crow era South to an entertainment legend whose words, songs, style and moves inspired musical revolutions and molded a nation’s view of Black pride and Black masculinity. Consistently facing obstacles and unbelievable odds, the documentary details how Brown persevered through decades of personal demons, racial injustice and career setbacks to find redemption and become one of the most celebrated and influential artists of the 20th century. James Brown: Say It Loud is a definitive look at a complicated life and a reflection on the immense impact Brown continues to have as a musical and cultural trailblazer.

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