Tyrone Jefferson: (30 years)
Musical Director/ Trombone
Mr. Jefferson joined the James Brown Elite Family of Funk in 1979. In addition to writing and arranging music for the Godfather of Soul, he was one of six composers from around the world commissioned in 1983 by the Minister of Culture in Basse Terre, Guadeloupe to compose original music for World Peace. He has also performed with jazz legends Frank Foster and Slide Hampton as well as with The Dells, The Manhattans, and Grammy-nominated vocalist Carla Cook.
Emcee / “Cape Man” – Danny Ray (49 years)
Mr. Ray joined the James Brown Elite Family of Funk in 1960. Born in Birmingham, Ala. Mr. Ray is best known as the Master of Ceremonies for the James Brown shows and for draping the star-studded capes over the Godfather of Soul at the close of a concert. Mr. Ray met James Brown at the Apollo Theater in New York City and worked as Mr. Brown’s valet for two years until 1962 when an announcer failed to show up for a James Brown concert. Mr. Ray’s rich baritone voice and strong desire to be in the entertainment business made him a “natural “announcer. Yet Mr. Ray was much more than an announcer as Danny Ray and James Brown were partners – each one understanding the dynamics, timing and professionalism necessary for each high energy James Brown performance –that usually started with Danny saying: “Ladies and Gentlemen…, IT’S STARRRRRR TIME! ….
Bass Guitar – Fred Thomas (38 years)
Mr. Thomas joined the James Brown Elite Family of Funk in 1971 and was a member of the original JB’s band. He is currently setting up a tour of School and Colleges for clinics with their music departments – sharing how James Brown put it all together and how he made it work. He will soon release a CD that speaks to the music from his lifetime of writing and arranging.
Vocals – Cynthia Moore (18 years)
lo.Ms. Moore joined the James Brown Elite Family of Funk in 1991. A native from Buffalo NY, who eventually became the lead vocalist. Ms. Moore shared the spotlight with Mr. Brown on several songs. Ms. Moore has spent 9 years performing with “The Unity Band” in Buffalo.
Guitar – Keith Jenkins (15 years)
Mr. Jenkins joined the James Brown Elite Family of Funk in 1994. He performed with James Brown at many notable events such as the Woodstock 99 Festival and Mr. Brown’s final appearance at the Apollo Theater. He’s currently working toward a college degree and resides in Augusta, Ga.
Percussion – George “Spike” Nealy (19 years)
Mr. Nealy joined the James Brown Elite Family of Funk in 1990 and was featured in the movie “Drum Line”. He currently teaches in the Music Department at South Carolina State University and has also performed with the SOS band, Keith Sweat and Xscape just to name a few.
Trumpet – Joe Collier (30 years)
Mr. Collier joined the James Brown Elite Family of Funk in 1980 and has also performed with ‘Clarence Carter, Albert Collins, Aretha Franklin, and Joe Cocker. His TV and movies credits include Rocky IV and Mama Flora’s Family featuring Cicely Tyson and the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Saxophone – Jeff Watkins (15 years)
Mr. Watkins joined the James Brown Elite Family of Funk in 1994 and has also performed with many other soul legends. Jeff is currently a member of the Joss Stone Band and is touring the world with her. He resides in New Orleans and enjoys recording & producing as well as playing sax & keys
Saxophone Alto – “Funky” Leroy Harper Jr. (15 years)
Mr Harper « Funky » joined the Elite Family of Funk in 1991 and has also performed with a number of artists and bands such as Stevie Wonder, Stacy Lattasaw, Milie Jacksin, James Levi (Herbie Hancock-Headhunters), Sylk (Founder), Soul Power Posse (Founder, and many others. He has made guest appearances in several Tv-shows : Late night with David Letterman, Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, James Brown live at the House Of Blues, Woodstock 99 just to naes a few. He also made guest appearences on the following movies : Rocky IV, The Tuxedo- starring Jackie Chan,Experience the Music Project-Dreamworks, Idlewild- starring Outkast, Boulden- produced by Wynton Marsalis.
Musical Director/ Trumpet – Hollie Farris (31 years)
Mr. Farris joined the James Brown Elite Family of Funk when James Brown heard Mr. Farris playing with a popular Nashville show band and hired him on the spot in 1975. Mr. Farris became lead trumpet, section leader, arranger and later music director. Mr. Farris has also toured with Steve Winwood, The Commitments, and for the last five years, Joss Stone, the British soul-singing sensation. He has written songs for James Brown, jazz guitarist Denny Jiosa and several television shows. Mr. Farris earned his Bachelor and Master’s degree in Music Education at Arkansas State University, had a brief stint as a band director and was a member of the elite 82nd Airborne band at Ft. Bragg, N.C