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Celebrating James Brown: Say It Loud


The Grammy Museum hosts a special evening on the life and music of the late “Godfather of Soul” James Brown. The program features exclusive clips from A&E’s forthcoming documentary James Brown: Say It Loud, produced by Mick Jagger’s Jagged Films and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s Two One Five Entertainment, followed by a conversation with director Deborah Riley Draper, superstar producer Jimmy Jam, UMG’s Jeff Harleston, and some surprises. Billboard’s Gail Mitchell moderates the program. The event will also feature select pieces of original artwork inspired by the lyrics of James Brown from the “Echoes Of The Flame” Exhibition by Song-Word Art House. The event will reveal an exclusive first listen to a never-before-released James Brown song, “We Got To Change,” recorded in August, 1970 and set for release during Black History Month.


Deborah Riley Draper is an award-winning and critically acclaimed filmmaker and advertising agency veteran and founder of Coffee Bluff Pictures Productions. Variety Magazine has previously named Ms. Draper as one of their “Top 10 Documakers to Watch.” Her incredible storytelling and ability to find unseen and unheard voices is changing the independent film landscape.

Deborah will premiere her much-anticipated project, James Brown: Say It Loud, on February 19, 2024, on A&E Network, which she directed and co-wrote. The 4-part series is executive produced by the legendary artist Mick Jagger and Academy Award-winner Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. The docu-series examines Brown’s legacy through exclusive interviews, never-before-seen footage, and his beloved music catalog.

Draper previously directed the 2-part series The Legacy of Black Wall Street for OWN/Discovery+, which received an NAACP Image Awards nomination for Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Television) and in 2017, she received an NAACP Image Award nomination for her documentary feature Olympic Pride, American Prejudice. The film was one of only three films recognized globally by HRH Prince Albert of Monaco for the 2017 Sportel World Peace and Sport Award.

Her debut film Versailles ‘73: American Runway Revolution opened New York Fashion Week and Toronto Fashion Week in 2012, then debuted on LOGO TV. Versailles ‘73 is the first intimate look at the infamous Palace of Versailles fundraiser, which gave birth to American Prêt-à-Porter, led by Black models. The film won the HBO Best Documentary at the MVAAFF. Draper also directed the award-winning documentary Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in 2021 and the short documentary OnBoard: The Story of Black Women on Boards, which premiered at the 2023 Tribeca Festival. 

Draper recently wrote and directed the 2024 Love, Your Mind campaign for The Ad Council. Additionally, she won the 2023 Gold Anthem Award and Gold Addy Award for the Ad Council’s Rural Stories in 2021 and multiple Addys and Anthem Awards for the Ad Council’s COVID-19 Education PSA Tuskegee Legacy Stories. Draper served as the archival producer on Hulu’s Look at Me Now: XXXTencion in 2022.

She wrote and directed the award-winning short film Illegal Rose in 2019, starring Emmy award-winning actress Jasmine Guy. 


Five-time GRAMMY-award winner Jimmy Jam is a husband, father, world renowned songwriter, record producer, musician, entrepreneur, and one half of the most influential and successful songwriting & production duo in modern music history, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Along with Lewis his 40 year business partner and 50 year best friend, Jimmy’s accomplishments have elevated him to iconic status within the music industry.

The duo have also been Oscar and Golden Globe nominated, have been immortalized with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and inducted into the 2017 Songwriters Hall of Fame and the 2022 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

Jimmy Jam is the former Chair of the Board of The Recording Academy the first African-American to be elected to that position. He currently serves on the GRAMMY Museum Foundation Board and is Chair of the GRAMMY TV Committee overseeing the broadcasts.

Clarence Avant credited as the man who discovered Jam & Lewis, (known as the Black Godfather) famously says, “The World Has Music For Those Who Listen”.


Jeffrey Harleston is General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs for Universal Music Group (UMG). UMG’s labels include Capitol, Interscope, Republic, Motown, Island, Def Jam, Decca and Verve, and a leading global music publishing company, Universal Music Publishing and the industry’s leading merchandising company, Bravado.

Harleston is a member of UMG’s executive management board and is responsible for overseeing all business transactions, contracts, and litigation for UMG’s operations worldwide. In addition, he is also responsible for the company’s government relations, trade and anti-piracy activities.

Throughout his career, Harleston has been recognized for his many achievements, including receiving The Recording Academy’s 2020 Entertainment Law Initiative Service Award, Billboard’s 2018 “Lawyer of the Year,” and the 2018 Diversity Award from the Association of Corporate Counsel for Southern California. In 2017, Harleston was named one of Ebony magazine’s “Power 100” and is annually recognized by Billboard on the magazine’s “Power 100” list of the most influential executives in the music industry.

Harleston is proud to be a Founder of the Universal/Motown Fund, an endowment dedicated to providing financial assistance for artists from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.


Gail Mitchell serves as Billboard’s Executive Director of R&B/Hip-Hop, covering the R&B and rap genres as well as music industry business news across all genres and sectors for the magazine and Mitchell has moderated panels and keynote Q&A’s for industry organizations and companies such as ASCAP, BMI, the Recording Academy, Grammy Museum, Revolt Music Conference, Music Business Association (Music Biz), Warner Records, Pollstar and MIDEM Digital 2020. She has also represented Billboard in stories and broadcast interviews for media outlets including Anderson Cooper 360, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, NBC’s Today, CBS This Morning, CBS News Radio, CBS Evening News, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, BET, A&E, Associated Press, Cheddar News, USA Today, The New York Times’ Popcast and the 2021 Showtime documentary Bitchin: The Sound and Fury of Rick James. 

Mitchell holds a BA degree in communications from Loyola Marymount University/Los Angeles. Her music industry service includes two terms as a national trustee representing the L.A. Chapter of the Recording Academy. Mitchell was honored at Facebook + Instagram’s second annual Women in Music #EmpowHER luncheon in 2020, alongside Epic Records Chairwoman/CEO Sylvia Rhone, former Motown Records chairwoman/CEO Ethiopia Habtemariam and Jacqueline Saturn, President of Capitol Music Group’s Caroline division. Mitchell was among 2021’s Empowered Women honorees, as recognized by the Culture Creators organization in partnership with Elle magazine and CIROC. She also serves on the advisory boards for the National Museum of African American Music and the Living Legends Foundation.

Member Check – In: 6:00pm

Nonmember Check – In / Doors: 6:30pm

Show Time: 7:00pm


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