James Brown gained fame as one of the most electrifying entertainers that ever lived, but there also existed unsavory sides to the man. In a new book from Brown’s daughter, she reveals that her father was violent towards her mother and married an abusive partner herself.
Dr. Yamma Brown released her memoir, Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown And Me, earlier this month to solid praise from celebrities and other public figures. Unlike this summer’s biopic Get On Up, Dr. Brown candidly details memories she has of her father beating her mother, Deidre Jenkins, and how as an adult she walked into a similar situation.
Excerpts of the book appear below courtesy of Vulture:
My father never beat us, but sometimes I think a beating would have been less hurtful than hearing the sounds of him using my mother as his punching bag. Sometimes I threw up in my hands when they fought. Usually I just shook like a damn leaf trying to hold on during a brisk fall breeze. When my father was in that crazy-ass way, everything was my mother’s fault. She couldn’t do anything right. When he started, she took it to the bedroom and closed the doors — I presume to spare Deanna and me from seeing her battered.
As much as I loved my father, and I sure loved him, I hated him during those times. And I didn’t like my mother much, either. I didn’t understand why she let my father treat her like that. If she couldn’t stand up for herself, how would she protect me? What if I slipped up and did or said something Dad didn’t like and he decided to turn on me, his little Yammacakes? I didn’t think he’d hurt me, but I couldn’t be sure. I couldn’t possibly defend myself against a strong man like my father, especially not when he was in one of his rages.
During her time in Atlanta working in her field of pharmacology, Dr. Brown met her future and now former husband, Darren Lumar. At first a budding and intense romance, the relationship dissolved into a decade-long nightmare for Dr. Brown as her husband revealed to her who he really was.
Today, Dr. Brown is the Vice President of the James Brown Family Foundation and founder of Daughter of Soul Productions. She also served as a producer for Get On Up, and also works as a spokesperson for Break The Cycle, an organization that works with victims of domestic abuse.
Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown And Me is available at most major outlets.
Photo: Chicago Review Press