James Brown’s Daughters on Tackling the Difficult Aspects of Their Father’s Past in New Documentary (Exclusive)

James Brown's daughters open up in the new docuseries about showcasing 'different perspectives' of their father's influence and more.

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The new A&E documentary event James Brown: Say It Loud chronicles the legendary singer’s incredible career. The documentary features amazing footage and interviews with Mick Jagger, LL Cool J, and more. James Brown: Say It Loud also features members of the Godfather of Soul’s family, giving an intimate portrait of the man beyond the stage.

Hollywood Life spoke exclusively with James Brown’s daughters Dr. Deanna Brown Thomas and Dr. Yamma Brown about their participation in the documentary. “It’s really about this next generation being able to learn about the Godfather of Soul, James Brown,” Dr. Thomas said. “They listen to all his music because he’s in every genre of music. They get to hear a piece of him, so now they get to learn where is this source, who is this source, where does he come from, and from different perspectives as well.”

James Brown
Yamma and Deanna with their father at the Grammys in 1993. (Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images)

While working on the documentary, the sisters were able to see their father through the eyes of others. “It truly really is interesting to see how many people wanted to speak to him, learn about him, how much advice he gave, how much of a resource he was to different political figures,” Dr. Brown admitted. “It just really makes my heart feel good to see how involved he was, but also, for other people to see that… It’s just good to see all of that and just show everybody how encompassing he was.” Dr. Thomas added, “He controlled his destiny and that is a teachable for all of us.”

The documentary addresses all of the “I Got You” singer’s life, even the more challenging moments. Dr. Brown and Dr. Thomas don’t shy away from discussing the domestic violence their father committed against their mother, Dee Dee Brown.

“I feel like it’s part of who he is. It’s part of our lives. There’s no sense in trying to pretend like something didn’t exist because there’s more blessings [with] you going through it and coming out a different person,” Dr. Brown said. “I always say have grace for that person and what they went through in life and understand that we’re all given grace, we all make mistakes, have made mistakes, and will continue to make mistakes.”

She added, “Not all of us will be able to also be so iconic when it comes to music and a genius in that respect and have all these other kinds of pressures on us. You have to take all of that into account. Not to shy away from hurt that may have been caused or pain along the way, but also realize that there was hurt and pain in his life from how he grew up, to truly charting his path and overcoming. So, just a lot of grace. A lot of grace.”

James Brown
Yamma and Deanna with Al Sharpton at the ‘James Brown: Say It Loud’ premiere event. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for A+E)

Dr. Thomas revealed that her father apologized to her mother before he died. “A lot of people don’t do that, but he apologized to her for everything that he did,” she said. She also pointed out that it would have been “stupid acting like it didn’t happen. You don’t know how much it will help you or someone else be able to at least admit and be open to saying yes it was a situation, it did hurt, it did damage.”

The Godfather of Soul had a meteoric rise through the decades and continues to have an impact on music today. “By him being the most sampled artist still of all time it just goes to show how many people still love him, how his music still resonates to the next generation and the next generation, and knowing that my dad’s music runs through the very fabric of so many different genres, it just makes me proud,” Dr. Brown told Hollywood Life. “It makes me proud to be able to say that and to know that he will forever impact. They will still be talking about him forever and his impact on music.” The next installment of James Brown: Say It Loud will air February 20 at 8 p.m. on A&E.