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A year after his death, James Brown's estate not yet on the good foot
Brown performs during a concert at Yunfeng Theater in Shanghai, China, Feb. 22, 2006.
By KATRINA A. GOGGINS
Associated Press Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The self-proclaimed widow admits she's been a bit of a drama queen, and she's not about to apologize for it. The lawyer feels brushed aside after more than two decades of dedication. The preacher had trouble dealing with the death of a man who took the role of the father who abandoned him.
And the son is at peace, ready to continue his father's work.
A year after music legend James Brown died in an Atlanta hospital, the people who surrounded him in life continue to fight over the future of his fortune and legacy. People claiming to be Brown's relatives have entered the fray. And none of what's become a tragicomic saga looks to be resolved anytime soon.
Brown, who died Christmas Day at age 73, continues to be remembered for a larger-than-life personality, his voice and flashy footwork inspiring generations of entertainers. The Godfather of Soul won Grammys, recorded more than 110 charted singles and is credited by some with inventing funk and rap music.
Fans of the legendary soul singer brave the cold to view his body as it passes in a horse-drawn hearse down Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem, New York, Dec. 28, 2006..
As thousands attended public memorial services for Brown, the legal rifts surrounding his estate were forming. It took two months for him to be buried, his body at one point resting in a sealed gold casket inside his home. After he was buried in March on one of his daughter's properties, his family said a more public mausoleum was planned. There's still talk of a Graceland-like museum at his Beech Island home.
Tomi Rae Hynie, a former backup singer who claims to be Brown's fourth wife and the mother of his child, said she led the private funeral procession that day with her son. She's claimed Brown wanted her to have his home in the western part of South Carolina, near the Georgia state line, but was locked out.
"Everybody says I'm being a drama queen and I'm a great actress," Hynie said, alternately sobbing and joking during a recent telephone interview. "All I did was cry and fall to my knees and faint a couple of times. Isn't that how a wife is supposed to act at a funeral when she loses the man she loves?"
She's since been a fixture in courtrooms, occasionally sauntering in late, tossing her cranberry-red hair and glaring at attorneys as she vies for half of Brown's estate. Just how much that is worth remains unclear. In October, Forbes reported Brown made an estimated $5 million in the prior year alone. But attorneys have said Brown's accounts do not have the money they expected. One former trustee of Brown's estate, David Cannon, has repaid $350,000 he was accused of misappropriating.
"When I married James he said it wasn't because I was the prettiest girl in the room," Hynie said. "He said it's because I was a fighter. And I'm going to fight. ... I'm going to fight because every night, when me and that man were in bed together, all we did was talk about this day and what I was going to have to do and how if I wanted it I was going to really have to fight for it."
Brown, performs during an open air festival in Eschenbach, near Luzern, Switzerland, July 5, 1997.
Buddy Dallas has spent the year immersed in that fight.
Brown's longtime attorney and adviser met the entertainer in 1984 and was "with him through thick and thin from then until now."
"Mr. Brown needed what I was able to give him and that was someone he could trust," Dallas said. "We laughed together, we cried together, we prayed together. And I was there for Mr. Brown's children as well."
But after their father died, Brown's adult children moved to oust Dallas and two other trustees. Dallas resigned in November but now claims the judge handling the disputes forced him out and he's trying retract his resignation.
"My only regret is that the children cannot accept the will of their father," Dallas said. "He left household and personal effects to his children. He left a trust fund to educate his grandchildren. And then everything else on the face of the earth that he owned he left to the needy and underprivileged children of Georgia and South Carolina for educational purposes. And he named his three friends (Brown's trustees) to carry out that purpose."
As for Hynie, Dallas says she's not Brown's widow because she was still married to another man when she and Brown said their vows in 2001.
For Daryl Brown, one of six adult children listed in his father's will, the estate and the money it holds is less important than his father's musical legacy. Daryl Brown said keeping his father's band together is his priority, even as others focus on the money.
"We have some family members that really just eat and sleep the situation," he said. "I was more prepared. I already knew what my assignment was. He left me the Soul Generals and that's one of the last things we talked about."
He does believe Dallas and others handling his father's finances "totally forgot about the children."
The Godfather of soul performs a concert in downtown Naples, July 22, 2003.
Accepting Brown's death was more difficult for the Rev. Al Sharpton, who first met Brown as a boy. The two become closer in 1973 after Brown's son died.
"He lost Teddy, his oldest child, and my father kind of abandoned me. So in many ways I became the son he lost and he became the father I never had," Sharpton said.
Sharpton said he rode with Brown's body from Augusta, Ga., to Harlem, N.Y., where a second public ceremony took place.
"I just felt like I couldn't leave him," Sharpton said. "This was like my father. And that's why to me I just can't sit in court and watch the bickering, because it's too personal."
Sharpton believes that, in the end, the legal battle will likely be a small footnote to Brown's legacy.
"The irony is that people are squabbling over things that James Brown created and earned," Sharpton said. "He didn't inherit anything. He grew up fatherless, motherless, penniless and left people arguing over what they inherit from him."
"Man's World" James Brown & Pavarotti live!!! This incredible performance is one of the most electrifying collaborations ever assembled. Sheer perfection!!!
James Brown Teaches you to Dance - Some description of dance steps
Please don't ask me for the original - I don't know where this coming from (I Extract it from another video find on Internet)