Saturday, May 03, 2003

from the writer's almanac:
It's the birthday of folk singer Pete Seeger, born in New York City (1919). His mother was a violinist and his father was a musicologist. As a teenager he rebelled against his parents' love of music, and decided he wanted to be a painter. But the first time he heard the sound of a banjo at the Folk Song and Dance Festival in Asheville, North Carolina, he fell in love with folk music and dropped out of Harvard.

It's the birthday of the "Godfather of Soul" James Brown, born in a one-room shack in the pinewoods of Barnwell, South Carolina (1928). His family gave him up for dead after his delivery, because he wasn't breathing or moving, but his aunt Minnie picked him up and blew into his mouth, and he screamed for the first time. As a singer, he became known for his scream. He also developed a sequence in his live performance, in which he collapsed to the floor exhausted, but as members of his band helped him off the stage, he suddenly threw off their arms, as though he'd been resurrected, and continued on with the show. He began a recording career with a song called "Please Please Please" (1956). It was a huge hit, and went to number six on the R & B charts. He went on to record such songs as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" (1965) and "I Got You (I Feel Good)" (1965).

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