CreditTina Fineberg/Associated Press
‘I’m Black and I’m Proud’ at 50
Oct. 20; apollotheater.org.
“We’d rather die on our feet than keep living on our knees,” James Brown said over the intoxicating funk groove of his 1968 single “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud.” It was a sentiment that could hardly have felt more timely. Martin Luther King Jr. had just been murdered — with Mr. Brown famously quelling tensions at his concert in Boston the day following Dr. King’s death — and Huey P. Newton was in jail, as his Black Panther party found its biggest following. “Say It Loud,” released in the thick of the summer of ’68, was an instant anthem for Black Americans who felt like they were running out of options and just trying to survive.
Fifty years later, “Say It Loud” remains among the most important pieces of Mr. Brown’s legacy as well as a vital piece of American history. Fittingly, the Apollo Theater will commemorate the song’s significance with an all-star concert hosted by the Reverend Al Sharpton — a longtime friend of Mr. Brown’s — and musically directed by Christian McBride. A number of musicians from Mr. Brown’s ensembles will be featured in the house band, including Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis (co-author of “Say It Loud”), Fred Wesley and Robert “Mousey” Thompson. Tickets are half-price for those who can provide proof of Harlem residence.