Friends and stars gather to pay their respects

Friends and relatives of James Brown have gathered for a private memorial service in his hometown.

The Godfather of Soul, who died aged 73, on Christmas Day (December 25), was brought into Carpentersville Baptist Church in the same gold casket that was bearing his body at New York‘s Apollo Theatre yesterday (December 28).

Among the guests who paid their respects at the ceremony in Augusta, Georgia this afternoon (December 29) were boxing promoter Don King, comedian Dick Gregory and his friend Rev Al Sharpton, who previously accompanied Brown‘s body to New York.

During the ceremony in front of around 300 people, Rev Sharpton said that James Brown should be remembered in life and death for his impact on music and on the world, not for the many people that surrounded him.

“When he started singing, we were sitting in the back of the bus. When he stopped singing we were flying Lear jets,” he added.

The 90-minute service also saw several prayers, gospel music, and Brown‘s favorite hymn, ‘His Eye Is On The Sparrow’ by Cynthia Moore as mourners clapped, danced, waved their arms and cheered.

Several hundred friends, relatives and onlookers also waited outside the small, red brick church in a neighbourhood of dilapidated homes, reports ABC News.

The ceremony marked the second day of the singer’s final farewell after he died unexpectedly of heart failure caused by severe pneumonia.

The singer’s body was taken to the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York on Thursday (December 28) to lie in state so fans could pay their respects.

On Saturday (December 30), a public funeral will be held in the Augusta‘s 8,500 capacity Civic auditorium which was re-named the James Brown Arena earlier in the year.

Read more on James Brown‘s life now.

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