According to ABC News more than 8,500 of James Brown’s fans filled an arena bearing his name Saturday to farewell the Godfather of Soul off to his resting place.
The service for James Brown’s funeral lasted approximately 90-minutes with prayers, gospel music, a dedication dance from MC Hammer, songs from his band and James Brown’s favourite hymn, “His eye is on the sparrow” by Cynthia Moore.
James Brown’s body laid lifeless in front of the bandstand in a gold casket dressed in a black jacket with white studs on the lapels, white gloves, a red shirt and sequined shoes. Fans lines up early to beat the rain so they could witness the furneral.
After the James Brown Arena was full, the remaining mourners and onlookers gathered on the streets to listen to the service over the PSA.
Those who paid tribute to the Godfather of Soul included Rev. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the tearful Michael Jackson and others who took turns at the podium which overlooked the casket.
Fans didn’t expect Michael Jackson who bowed to James Brown’s casket who then shared a hug with Rev. Al Sharpton as James Brown’s most recent backup band the “Soul Generals” began to play.
At the podium, pop star Michael Jackson told the mourners, “James Brown is my greatest inspiration,” adding that when he was a child, his mother would wake him, regardless of the hour, whenever Brown was on TV.
“When I saw him move, I was mesmerized,” Jackson said. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life because of James Brown.”
In related news, James Brown’s lawyer has said the late singer and his 36-year-old partner weren’t legally married and so she was locked out of his South Carolina home for legal reasons involving his estate. The partner, one of Brown’s backup singers, told media that the couple was married and she can prove it. The funeral program reportedly listed Tomi Rae Hynie as a “companion” who has a 5 year-old child with Brown. The program also listed James Brown was survived by seven children, though his publicist referred to only four.
James Brown was born in Barnwell, S.C., but mostly stayed in Augusta, GA as a child. He considered Augusta, who named a street in his honor a decade ago and last year erected a statue of him in a downtown park, his home. Earlier this year, the community’s main auditorium was also named after James Brown.