How it all started.
Funk music got its start in the 1960s. A man we all know as James Brown started it all with a song titled, “Papa‘s Got a Brand New Bag.” In 1967 James Brown co-wrote a song called, “Cold Sweat” with Alfred Ellis. This song was considered the first hit for the genre. Funk is said to be the mix of many genres. It includes, jazz, R&B, and soul. So it’s no surprise that James Brown, The Godfather of a soul, would be involved in the birth of a genre like funk. And where else but the great musical city of New Orleans could funk music have gotten its start?
The great musical city of New Orleans.
Louisiana became a State back in the 19th century through a famous transaction known as the Louisiana Purchase. With New Orleans, Louisiana quickly becoming the birthplace of many musical genres. One of which was funk. Nicknamed the Big Easy, New Orleans is where many musicians flock to for a shot at being discovered. New Orleans is to funk what Seattle is to punk or Detroit to rock and roll. Funk is the African Americans‘ punk rock music.
More than an influence.
While funk music isn’t exclusive to African Americans there certainly is a long list of influential names found in the genre whom are African Americans. Not just James Brown, and Alfred “Pee Wee“ Ellis, but also Prince, Kool and the Gang, George Clinton, who helped start the Parliament-Funkadelic and Rick James all have had fundamental influence over this genre of music. But James Browns’ bold voice and unforgiving attitude influenced it all. You might say it’s more than an influence. It’s a culture. Some African tribal songs are the core to what brought this genre to life. While funk music does have a beat and rhythm you can dance to it also tells a story. It’s a story of overcoming adversity and “sticking it to the man.” Some might even say that the funk genre has had a great influence on our modern day rap artists.
Funk music was the first music to introduce the electric bass guitar. It’s really a unique genre, implementing horns and keyboards in with electric guitar riffs. Funk also gave us great artist such as Bootsy Collins, Louis Johnson and Larry Graham. These are just a couple of talented artists whom can stroke the bass better than anyone else. We may have never heard of any of them without a genre like funk. This genre reinvented the way people dance. The way we move. It even coined the term, “get funky.” Again, something James Brown was a front runner in. With jazz and soul at its core, mixed with the lyrical beauty of R&B, and the electric instruments of rock and roll all make funk its own thing. It has a unique sound that could only be known as funk. So get on up, get out and let your funk flag fly.