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December 13th, 2021



“If you ain’t got enough soul, let me know. I’ll loan you some! Huh!

 I got enough soul to burn.” – James Brown

Primary Wave Music announced today their partnership with the estate of “Soul Brother Number ONE,” James Brown. One of the first ten inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Brown’s career began in the mid-50s as lead singer of the Famous Flames. He quickly gained recognition for being an energetic and powerful live performer, and in the 60’s released Live at the Apollo which shot him to super stardom. The album was ranked at 25 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Times, was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Over the course of his 50+ year career, Brown recorded 17 singles that reached number 1 on the Billboard R&B charts, he holds the record for most singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and amassed an incredible 98 songs on the Billboard Top 40 R&B singles chart. Not only was he a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, but in 2013 he was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame as an artist and then again in 2017 as a songwriter. James has also been honored by several other music institutions including the Songwriters Hall of Fame and in 2003, James was one of the recipients at Kennedy Center Honors.

In this exciting partnership with the estate, Primary Wave Music has acquired a stake in Brown’s publishing, master recording income stream, and name and likeness rights. Primary Wave will also continue a partnership with the estate, which will include several projects related to The James Brown 2000 Trust, which was established in 2000 by Mr. Brown for charitable and educational purposes.

The estate will now have access to Primary Wave’s entire marketing team, digital team, publicity department, branding team, and publishing infrastructure which includes licensing and synch opportunities.

Included in the deal are some of the most legendary hits in the history of music such as “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” “I Got You (I Feel Good),” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” Released in 1965, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” was Brown’s first song to reach the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 8. The song did hit number 1 on the R&B charts, staying there for an astonishing eight weeks and earned Brown his first Grammy award. The Grammy nominated “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” also reached number 1 on the R&B charts, as well as hitting the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became a staple in Brown’s live show through the remainder of his career. Brown’s most well-known recording is considered by many to be “I Got You (I Feel Good).” Released in 1965, the song soared to the Top 5 of the Billboard 100, peaking at number 3 and has since appeared in over ten films. Also included, is the 1985 single “Living in America.” Upon release, the song reached number 4 on the Hot 100 chart and spent 11 weeks on Billboard’s Top 40. “Living in America” won Brown his second Grammy was featured in the film “Rocky IV.”

“The James Brown Estate and related Trust are very proud and excited to work with Larry Mestel and Primary Wave,” said Russell Bauknight, Fiduciary for the James Brown Estate and Trust. He continues, “We believe that our choice of professionals to take the James Brown Legacy to the next level is going to prove to be one of the most successful events in Mr. Browns long history in show business.”

Larry Mestel, CEO & Founder of Primary Wave Music adds, “I FEEL GOOD! Wow, I am awed that Primary Wave has been chosen by the estate of James Brown to partner with the Godfather of Soul. We are thrilled to help continue the expansion of his influence and further his legacy through both his music and The James Brown 2000 Trust.”

“Soul Brother Number One,” “The Godfather of Soul,” “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” “Mr. Dynamite” — those are mighty titles, but no one can question that James Brown earned them more than any other performer. Other singers were more popular, but few other musicians were so influential over the course of popular music. And no other musician put on a more exciting, exhilarating stage show. Through the gospel-impassioned fury of his vocals and the complex polyrhythms of his beats, Brown was one of the figures most responsible for turning R&B into soul and he was, most would agree, the one figure most responsible for transforming soul music into funk. Fittingly, his music became even more influential as it aged, since his voice and rhythms were sampled on innumerable hip-hop recordings, and critics belatedly hailed his innovations as among the most important in all of rock or R&B. Born in the South, he ran afoul of the law by the late ’40s on an armed robbery conviction. With the help of singer Bobby Byrd’s family, Brown gained parole and started a gospel group with Byrd, changing their focus to R&B as the rock revolution gained steam. The Flames signed to Federal/King and had a huge R&B hit right off the bat with the wrenching, churchy ballad “Please, Please, Please.” By that point, the Flames had become James Brown & the Famous Flames. Over the next two years Brown sought to establish his own style, recording material that was derivative of heroes like Roy Brown, Hank Ballard, Little Richard, and Ray Charles. In retrospect, Brown was in the same position as dozens of other R&B one-shots: talented singers in need of better songs, or not fully on the road to a truly original sound. What made Brown succeed where hundreds of others failed was his superhuman determination, working the circuit to death, sharpening his band, and keeping an eye on new trends. He was on the verge of being dropped by King in late 1958 when his perseverance finally paid off, as “Try Me” became a number one R&B hit, and several follow-ups established him as a regular visitor to the R&B charts. Brown’s style of R&B got harder as the ’60s began. Black audiences already knew that Brown had the most exciting live act around, but he truly started to become a phenomenon with the release of Live at the Apollo in 1963. Live at the Apollo was recorded and released against the wishes of the King label. It was this kind of artistic standoff that led Brown to seek better opportunities elsewhere. In 1964, he ignored his King contract to record “Out of Sight” for Smash. Brown’s new era had truly begun with “Out of Sight,” which topped the R&B charts and made the pop Top 40. 1965’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” a monster hit that finally broke Brown to a white audience, reaching the Top Ten. The even more adventurous follow-up, “I Got You (I Feel Good),” did even better, making number three. These hits kicked off Brown’s period of greatest commercial success and public visibility. From 1965 to the end of the decade, he was rarely off the R&B charts, often on the pop listings, and all over the concert circuit and on national television. In the early ’70s, Brown continued to score heavily on the R&B charts. In the ‘80s, with the explosion of rap, Brown became hipper than ever thanks to frequent samples of vintage J.B. records. Rock critics began to reevaluate his output, particularly the material from his funk years, sometimes anointing him not just “Soul Brother Number One,” but the most important Black musician of the rock era. Throughout the ’90s, Brown continued to perform and release new material and his classic catalog became more popular in the American mainstream during this time than it had been since the ’70s.

James Brown died on December 25, 2006 of heart failure.

Read more at the New York Times, Music Business Worldwide, and Rolling Stone!