I’ve wanted to see the James Brown movie come to life for years. As a Georgia girl, I admired James’s showmanship, style, and dance moves. I played a cast-the-movie game with my friend, Lisa Coffman, when we worked together. Finally, the Hollywood powers that be gave viewers an intimate, complex look at the Godfather of Soul. I sat transfixed in the theater with my son as actor Chadwick Boseman became James Brown. I mean disappeared into the role! As he unfolded the footsteps of Soul Brother Number One, I was reminded of five things everyone, but particularly creative people, should remember:

Your Gift Is Your Gift: James Brown was born in a time when the odds were stacked against him. Poverty, a broken family, and brushes with the law made it improbable for him to be a success. Yet deep inside him lived an undeniable ear for music, chords, and song. His gift made room for him and catapulted him to unimaginable stardom. His gift also created residual income for years to come. It was his gift; no one else’s.

The Show is the Show, and Business is Business: James’s seventh-grade education wasn’t an Achilles Heel; it was the driving force behind his commitment to learn the music business and not be taken advantage of by label execs. In 1971, Polydor Records bought out James’s contract with King Records for a whopping $910,000. Under the deal, James Brown’s two labels, People and Brownstone, were distributed under the Polydor banner. Polydor also acquired the rights to James’s back catalogue. Brown was consistently referred to as a “shrewd businessman” who kept his money close and handled lots of flashy duties “in-house.” He drove himself around, made sure he counted his money, and kept a close watch on the shifting landscape of music. When it changed, he changed. Author Stephen King said, “Talent is as common as table salt.” I believe talent and business sense are the fiercest combinations on the planet.

Everyone Needs A Bobby Byrd: The friendship between James Brown and Bobby Byrd is almost otherworldly. Bobby entered James’s life when he needed family, friendship, and guidance. He was the Gayle to James’s Oprah, the compass that directed James from dysfunction to normalcy, the epitome of loyalty. There was never an uprising or a public denouncement against James on Bobby’s part. When rumors of James’s taskmaster tactics surfaced, Bobby never spoke against his friend. He knew what James was all about and loved him anyway. Enough said.

Craft is Essential: James was known to stop his musicians’ mid-set if the music didn’t sound or feel right. He was known to thwack the band’s knuckles with drumsticks, or fine them for being late. He required the same thing from them he required of himself: excellence. If you ever have the pleasure of listening to his live recording, Sex Machine, play “It’s A Man’s World” and listen to his instruction to band members.  Craft was at the forefront of every performance, and he honed it continuously.

Legacy is Real: Say what you will about James Brown, he earned the title of The Hardest Working Man in Show Business by grinding and hustling. He often spoke of leaving a legacy for his children, but the overflow of his grind is evident in the beats and samples of modern music. James’s imprint can be heard in a variety of songs from Hip-Hop, R&B, Country and Western, to Opera. Yes, he performed “It’s A Man’s World” with Pavarotti. There was only one JB, and his legacy will live forever.