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The Will focuses tonight on estate of R&B superstar James Brown

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

When Godfather of Soul James Brown died in 2006, he left his family out in the cold while leaving most of his estate in a trust for underprivileged children, indicates Investigation Discovery's The Will: Family Secrets Revealed.

When celebrities pass, their fans mourn. But, too often, a fight ensues between family members over estates left—or not left—to them in a particular celebrity’s will. Such was the case following the passing of 73-year-old superstar Godfather of Soul James Brown, who died in 2006.

James Brown was born on May 3, 1933. But, in rural South Carolina, he had a long road ahead of him before he became the superstar who is credited with bringing funk to the world and releasing such now-classics as "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "Get Up Offa That Thing." After his parents went their separate ways, the young Brown went to live with his Aunt Honey, madam of a brothel, according to At only four years old, James was facing growing up during the Great Depression, taking any odd jobs he could find for pennies in his new Augusta, Georgia, home, including dancing for soldiers at nearby Fort Gordon. Picking cotton, washing cars and shining shoes were also on the list of jobs the young Brown did to earn a few cents. The struggles, Brown would later recall, led to a fierce determination to make something of himself and his life someday.

Broken Road Leads to Superstardom

Brown, as did many young Southern artists, sang in his church choir as a boy. But, when a lack of proper clothing led to his dismissal from school at age 12, Brown later found his way into a life of crime at 16, being arrested for stealing a car and receiving a sentence of three years in prison. This, however, turned out to have a silver lining, as he met aspiring R&B singer and pianist Bobby Byrd, who would later play a significant role throughout Brown’s musical career. After Brown served his time, he did not go directly into music, dabbling instead in boxing and semiprofessional baseball. But, when Byrd invited Brown to join his R&B vocal group, The Gospel Starlighters, in 1955, Brown started down the path that would ultimately lead him to superstardom as “The Godfather of Soul.”

The Family of James Brown

Over the course of his life, indicates, Brown had six children and four wives: Velma Warren (1953-1969), Deidre Jenkins (1970-1981), Adrienne Rodriguez (1984-1996) and Tomi Rae Hynie (2002-2004). So, needless to say, when Brown died on Christmas Day, 2006, following a week of suffering with pneumonia, he had family members who expected to inherit from his estate. However, according to Investigation Discovery:

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, dies in 2006. He leaves much of his estate to a trust for underprivileged children, while his family is left out in the cold. Was this Brown's decision, or was he influenced by trustees who are set to inherit the rest?

Find out more about the fight over the James Brown Estate tonight, Thursday, January 3, when The Will: Family Secrets Revealed airs on Investigation Discovery at 9 p.m. E/P.

Fans can also read more about the career of James Brown on

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Video: YouTube

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