James Brown's cape at the Augusta Museum of History

James Brown's cape at the Augusta Museum of History

7 Ways to Experience James Brown’s Augusta

A hotbed for arts and culture, the colonial city of Augusta, Georgia, has been welcoming guests since 1736 and continues to do so with artistic and historic points of interest and easy accessibility along Interstate 20, just 150 miles southeast of Atlanta. Visit the hometown of world-famous soul singer James Brown, and delve into the unique cultural climate Augusta has to offer.

Brown was born in South Carolina near the beginning of the Great Depression, but spent most of his youth in Augusta after his parents left him in the care of his Aunt Honey. Although Brown grew up in poverty – performing an array of menial and even back-breaking tasks as a child and young teen picking cotton, shining shoes, dancing for spare change, and washing cars – these struggles did not keep the young, talented performer from reaching stardom. At 13, Brown and two friends formed the Cremona Trio and sang for those passing by, and thus began his long musical career setting him up to be known as “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.”

Walk in James Brown’s footsteps when you visit these seven Augusta points of interest.

Items on display at the Augusta Museum of History. - Photo by Chris Thelan.
Items on display at the Augusta Museum of History. - Photo by Chris Thelan.

Augusta Museum of History

Begin your journey of Brown’s Augusta with the Augusta Museum of History, founded in 1937 and home to the largest historical collection in the Central Savannah River Area, detailing Georgia’s second-oldest and second-largest city’s nearly 300 years of history. The museum houses the first and most comprehensive major exhibition dedicated to The Godfather of Soul. See some of his classic dance moves as you watch his concerts on DVD. Listen to some of his all time hits, and learn about his life, legacy and contribution to music. Highlights of the exhibit include ever-changing costumes and other personal artifacts owned and worn by Brown, family photos, original vinyl albums, and other unique memorabilia.

Augusta Information Center

Before leaving the museum, step into the Augusta Visitor Information Center, located inside the lobby of the Augusta Museum of History, and pick up a self-guided walking tour to determine additional points of interest located throughout the city of Augusta.

James Brown Statue in downtown Augusta

James Brown Statue

As you stroll downtown, make sure to stop and have your photo taken with Augusta’s life-sized James Brown Statue using the mounted camera. Your photo will be sent directly to your phone or email! The statue is located between 8th Street and James Brown Boulevard (9th). What a great free souvenir! 

Imperial Theatre in Augusta

Imperial Theatre

Before leaving Augusta on world tours, Mr. Brown and his band, the Soul Generals, would rehearse at the Imperial Theatre. It is also where he held his toy giveaways to needy children at Christmas, a tradition that still continues today. The Imperial is one of Augusta’s most beautiful theaters and still continues to host music performances along with plays, ballets, comedies and more.

Photo Credit: Lightweight Photography
James Brown Arena in Augusta. Photo Credit: Lightweight Photography

James Brown Arena

While in town, check the schedule of events at Augusta's James Brown Arena, where more than 8,000 mourners gathered for a memorial service after Brown's passing in 2006, including such notable characters as M.C. Hammer, Michael Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton.

Photo Credit: Soul Bar
Photo Credit: Soul Bar

Soul Bar

Looking for a place to “Get on the Good Foot”? Stop in for a drink and dancing at the Soul Bar. This bar is dedicated to the rhythm and soul of music and its biggest talents. A plethora of James Brown mementos and memorabilia adorn these walls.

Restaurants with connections to James Brown

All this walking, exploring and dancing may make you tired, so why not eat at one of Mr. Brown’s favorite places? T-Bonz Restaurant, located minutes from the Augusta National Golf Club, offers a James Brown Corner. Ask the owner to whip you up one of the entertainer’s favorite dishes. Mr. Brown loved a good steak and T Bonz has one of the best in Augusta. Or maybe you're in the mood for seafood? Deshawn’s Seafood, located right over the Savannah River in North Augusta is run by Mr. Brown’s son-in-law and former bodyguard. Sometimes if guests ask, the family may share a personal story or two.

Photo Credit: TBonz, Facebook
Photo Credit: TBonz, Facebook

Augusta is proud to have played such an important role in the life of a world-renowned musical artist and is thankful Mr. Brown called Augusta his home. There are many spots in Augusta that were special to Mr. Brown. As you visit these spots in Augusta, you can walk where he walked and stand where he once stood. Come on over to Augusta, and get a little closer to Augusta’s son.

Published: November 2018
Written by: Katie Reeder