From the 1950’s to the early 2000’s, legendary “Godfather of Soul” gave the world hit-after-hit with songs like “Black and Proud,” It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” “Payback,” and “Get Up Offa That Thing” making people smile, dance, and sing. Throughout his musical career, his vocal style, dance, and lyrics were often seen as a gifts in the world of funk and soul music. Today his daughter, Deanna Brown-Thomas, carries his legacy through the James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils (J.A.M.P).
J.A.M.P, founded in 2011, was designed to help youth discover their musical ability or as founder Brown-Thomas would say, helping youth “Staying on the Good Foot.” The academy was a collaborative effort between various educational consultants and music educators across the country. Its headquarters are in Augusta, Georgia, the same stomping grounds and Brown.
“My father always talked about the importance of keeping music in the schools. That every child will not be able to run the ball so put an instrument in the child’s hand and you will see a miracle because it will change their life,” said Brown-Thomas.
“This program has been a safe haven that keeps kids off the streets and out of gangs and other detrimental situations. Augusta, Georgia is home to ‘The Godfather’ so what better place to start the J.A.M.P. program. However, we are very open to J.A.M.P. L.A., NY, Chicago, UK, etc. Music is a universal language that can save young kids lives all over the world.”
Reverend Al Sharpton spoke highly of the academy and its representation on Brown’s legacy.
“J.A.M.P to me is the continuation of the legacy of James Brown,” he said. “When I sat in Augusta and watched those kids perform, first I was shocked at how talented they were and how serious they were.”
The (non-profit’s which is based solely on small grants, donations and tuition) job is to motivate, educate, and inspire children through the universal language, music.
“You are dealing with a lot of kids coming from broken homes and broken families and they are able to become a part of an organization like J.A.M.P it almost turns into a family situation and it helps these kids out a whole lot,” said J.A.M.P Assistant Maestro.
Additionally, the academy also provides scholarships for schools and students who are interested in learning music and prides itself in creating opportunities for students and schools to have access to musicians, artists, producers and business executives in the music industry through seminars and workshops.
Earlier this month, J.A.M.P. left the “Empire state of the South” and took a trip to the “city of the Angels” for a masterclass at LA Promise Charter School. The masterclass led by J.A.M.P. maestro and Grammy-nominated music educator, Daniel Sapp Jr., discussed music production, songwriting, film scoring, digital DJ’ing, instrumentation, and peer-to-peer engagement. Students also heard advice from guest speaker Flex Alexander from the hit TV Comedy Show “One on One,” and OWN’s “Flex and Shanice.” The J.A.M.P. band also had a chance to perform live.
While visiting L.A., students also had a radio interview with Brown’s grandson, Jason Brown, on Dash Radio and toured the Grammy Museum. The event was sponsored by the Val-U Furniture, Andrew Manheim at Andrew Manheim Microphones, TNT Transportation and the James Brown Family Foundation.
The number one takeaway Brown-Thomas has for the students participating in academy is for them to use their talents to bless others.
“I have an awesome opportunity to travel with my father on the road and the one thing I learned from him that I always tell our students that it’s a gift from God to know how to play music and know that you can bring someone a lot of joy with their music. I encourage them to humbly use their talents to bless others because that’s why God gave them the talent anyway, to share it just as my dad did all over the world,” she said.
For more information on J.AM.P or the James Brown Family Foundation visit www.jamesbrownfamilyfdn.org or call (803) 640-2090.