James Brown’s body was placed in a crypt Saturday at the Beech Island home of one his daughters, family and friends of the soul singer said.
White balloons were released and Brown’s adult children and other family members and friends sang and prayed over the singer’s body, said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who presided over the noon ceremony.
Also at the service were Brown’s partner, Tomi Rae Hynie, and the couple’s young son, who led the procession. “This is what James wanted, for the family to come together. Everyone really felt like James was there with us,” Hynie told The Associated Press by phone.
The service took place more than two months after the singer died in an Atlanta hospital. Brown died Dec. 25 at age 73, and his body had been held at an undisclosed location since then.
The private service at the home of Deanna Brown Thomas, about three miles from Brown’s Beech Island home, was in sharp contrast to elaborate funerals for the Godfather of Soul held after his death in New York and Augusta, Ga.
“He was very private,” said Sharpton, a longtime Brown confidant.
The crypt likely will not be Brown’s final resting place. A public mausoleum is being built and its location will be announced once it is completed, the family said.
Relatives locked in legal battleBrown’s children decided to use their own money to place his body in the crypt instead of waiting for disputes over his estate to be settled in court, Sharpton said in a statement.
“Where he is now has nothing to do with court proceedings,” Sharpton said.
Hynie, who claims she is Brown’s fourth wife, and her son were not included in Brown’s will. Attorneys for Brown said his marriage to his backup singer was annulled because Hynie was still married to another man.
Now that the family has come together, Hynie said she and her son will move back to South Carolina “to carry out James’ plans.”
“He wanted our marital home to become a Graceland. He wanted us to have a James Brown museum,” Hynie said.
Long legal battles between Brown’s children, Hynie and Brown’s trustees will likely occur before a museum and mausoleum can be built.
Brown’s children wanted to consult with Elvis Presley’s family to see how they transformed his Memphis, Tenn., home into Graceland after Presley’s death.
A longtime friend of Brown and trustee of his estate was disappointed by the service.
The trustees had made arrangements for Brown to be laid to rest at no cost at a “very prominent memorial garden in Augusta,” Buddy Dallas told the AP by phone. “Mr. Brown’s not deserving of anyone’s backyard,” said Dallas, who was not at Saturday’s service.