James Brown

Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)

Composed by James Brown / Pee Wee Ellis

Song Review by

Beside his extraordinary efforts of walking the streets and making peaceful appeals on both TV and radio during the rioting that took place after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., James Brown wasn't loved by everyone. His single "America Is My Home" and support of Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey brought him criticism and some say death threats. For another groundbreaking political effort, Brown recorded at the same studio he'd tracked "I Got the Feelin'," Vox Recording Studio in Van Nuys, CA. "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" was recorded on August 7, 1968, with a relatively new lineup of his backing band: bassist Charles Sherrell, horn player Richard Griffith, and a trombonist who would become one of the band's chief arrangers and Brown's creative foil, Fred Wesley. Also on hand were the vets: drummer Clyde Stubbenfield, guitarist Jimmy Nolan, saxmen Maceo Parker and St. Clair Pickney, and alto saxist/arranger/bandleader Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis. Brown explained that the song is about self-pride; not arrogant self-pride but the pride that's necessary for each individual to have in order to feel good about themselves and make a useful contribution to society. Co-written by producer Brown and Ellis, "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" parked at number one R&B for six weeks and made it to number ten pop during fall 1968. The Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud album also listed the number two R&B/number 14 pop single "Licking Stick, Licking Stick," "Goodbye My Love," and "I Guess I'll Have to Cry, Cry, Cry."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1977 Polydor
The Cold Sweat & Other Soul Classics: James Brown 1987 Polydor
Motherlode 1988 Polydor 4:55
Star Time 1991 Polydor 2:59
Movin' on Up, Vol. 1: Songs from the Civil Rights Struggle 1994
Various Artists
The Right Stuff 4:46
The Story of Soul Music 1995
Various Artists
Friedman Fairgfax 3:02
Soul [Friedman/Fairfax] 1995
Various Artists
Friedman Fairgfax 3:00
40th Anniversary Collection 1996 Polydor 4:50
Say It Live & Loud: Live in Dallas 1998 Chronicles / PolyGram 3:08
Soul [Book & CD] 1999
Various Artists
Friedman Fairgfax 3:02
Solid Gold Soul Inspiration 2001
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:50
Say It Loud! A Celebration of Black Music in America [Box Set] 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 4:48
Out of Sight: Greatest Hits 2002 Polydor
Undercover Brother 2002
Original Soundtrack
Hollywood 2:47
No Image 2007 Polydor / Universal Music
blue highlight denotes editor's pick