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Last Updated: Friday, 29 December 2006, 08:49 GMT
Thousands bid farewell to Brown
Fans file past the body of James Brown, lying in state at the Apollo Theater, Harlem
The body of James Brown is lying in state at the Apollo in Harlem
Thousands of people have gathered in the Harlem district of New York to pay tribute to US soul star James Brown, who died on Monday aged 73.

Fans sang and danced to his music while his gold casket was carried through the streets on a horse-drawn carriage.

His body lay in state at the Apollo theatre, a venue he loved.

Among those paying their respects was black civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, who said: "This man stood for us, the common man".

He added: "It was James Brown that with one song erased the word negro from our vocabulary forever and made us say it and say it loud, that we were black and we were proud.

Fans gather outside the Apollo Theater in Harlem

"He proved to us if you believe in God and you believe in yourself you can make it no matter what."

Rev Sharpton, who managed the singer in the 1970s, said Brown was a great symbol for African-Americans as a social leader and an innovator.

"We didn't line these streets because he had hits. Plenty of people had hits... but none got them on their own terms.

"He never bent, buckled or bowed. He never diluted his music... They'd say Mr Brown you got to water it down and he'd say if you didn't want James Brown you shouldn't have booked me."

White gloves, silver shoes

Crowds of people danced and sang in the streets outside the Apollo, while Brown's body was displayed on the stage where he made his 1956 debut.

James Brown and Al Sharpton in 1982
Reverend Al Sharpton (r) will oversee all of the funeral services
Music thumped from storefronts and portable stereos and people sang on the pavement, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, the sounds of Brown's unique vocals filled the auditorium as fans marched quietly past his open gold coffin, where he lay in a blue suit, white gloves and silver shoes.

Among the fans outside the venue was Norman Brand, 55, from Alabama.

The song Say it Loud (I'm Black and Proud) "really changed the attitude of most black people", he said.

"It was like a wake-up call. Before that, if you were called black, it was like an insult. Just one song and one word can change a whole situation."

Another wellwisher, Amino Hyman described how Brown "made black people feel proud to be black and enjoy our roots".

"When we had nothing else to look forward to or look up to, we always had our music. James Brown was definitely one of the ones that empowered us," he told local television network CW-11.

Brown's body will be taken to his hometown of Augusta, Georgia, for a private ceremony on Friday.

A viewing for fans will be held at the city's 8,500-seat James Brown Arena on Saturday, before another public service, again overseen by Reverend Sharpton.

Meanwhile it has been confirmed that singer Chaka Khan will perform in place of Brown at a special New Year's Eve show at BB King's Blues Club in New York.

Fans pay tribute to James Brown


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