It’s been eight years since the “Godfather of Soul,” James Brown (pictured) passed away at age 73. Now after an uphill six-year effort by historian Jacob Morris, along with the National Black Theatre, a street behind the famed Harlem Apollo Theatre is finally being renamed James Brown Way to honor the musical icon, according to the New York Daily News.
The street that will bear the name of the legendary performer is located on 126th between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Frederick Douglass Blvds. According to Morris, he was also looking to have some fanfare attached to the renaming of the street, a ceremony of sorts that would truly pay homage to the caliber of performer Brown was, the archivist tells the New York Daily News, “I didn’t want to put the sign up until we could do a ceremony that’s of James Brown stature.”
The guest list of luminaries who will reportedly attend the November 22 street renaming will be none other than the Rev. Al Sharpton, who will be a keynote speaker and who also considered Brown a mentor and father figure. A few of Brown’s relatives will also be present for the eventful honor, including his daughter Deanna Brown Thomas.
Brown had a long history of playing at the Apollo, the venue where he made his explosive debut and honed his reputation for high energy, dynamic concerts. Two days after Brown’s passing from congestive heart failure on Christmas day in 2006, his body was transported in a gold coffin to the legendary theater and put on view, so that the public could visit and pay their respects to the soul showman. Brown Thomas told the New York Daily News, “It [the Apollo] is where the eyes of the world came to watch my father. If he was here he’d be thanking God for people loving him enough to put his name on that street.”
The ceremony will commence at 1 p.m. and will be followed by a 2 p.m. screening of “James Brown: The Man, The Music & The Message” at the National Black Theatre.