knew something was up when my MySpace profile—which used to get maybe a dozen hits a day—was suddenly viewed almost a thousand times one Christmas morning. I found out later some other R&B singer with the same name as me had died.

ears ago I made a mix CD of Christmas songs and called it Merry Funkin' Xmas from James Brown, which this year after the Godfather of Soul kicked the bucket on Christmas Day turned out to be ironic in more ways than one. Needless to say, James Brown has been a huge presence in my life ever since I was a little kid. I could pay a few months rent if I had a dollar for every time I introduced myself to someone who said "James Brown! I feel good!" At the small town school I attended in Tennessee, one black kid named Robert Sturdevant would scream "James Brown! Ow!" and spin around and do a split every time he passed me in the hallway. In study hall black girls showed me dance moves, saying if I was going to be named James Brown then I needed to know some steps.

saw James Brown in concert a few times, and watching his emcee Danny Ray warm up the audience, exhorting thousands of people all around me to chant my name over and over for like twenty minutes, was a surreal experience. Some musicians have told me I should change my name, but hell, it beats being named Engelbert Humperdinck.

fter asking if I feel good or if I'm a sex machine, people often mention James Brown and his Band of Renown, confusing big band leader Les Brown's Band of Renown with the Famous Flames. And ask if my parents knew who James Brown was when they named me, but my folks would had to have been much hipper white people than they were to know about James Brown in 1962. My dad, whose favorite singer is Bob Wills, to this day still isn't sure exactly who James Brown is. And for a while it was "James Brown? I thought you were in jail," to which I always replied they told me they'd let me out if I promised to lighten up.

ow everyone says "I thought you were dead."