AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Danny Ray spent years as the emcee for James Brown, and part of his job during performances was draping capes on the Godfather of Soul.
Ray was 85 when he died Feb. 2 in Augusta, Georgia. During his funeral in that city Saturday, Brown’s daughter, Deanna Brown-Thomas, draped a shiny silver cape over Ray’s casket — just as Ray had draped a shiny red cape over Brown’s casket in 2006.
The Augusta Chronicle reported that more than 100 people attended Ray’s service at the James Brown Arena, where Ray and Brown had performed many times.
The Rev. Al Sharpton appeared at the funeral by video and said he expects Brown and Ray are now performing again “on the other side.”
“His voice set the tone for the James Brown show,” Sharpton said. “He was more than the cape man. He was the co-star of the peak of the show… and he was a decent and generous man.”
Thomas was among the friends and relatives who spoke about Ray, whose body was laid to rest at Walker Memorial Park in Augusta.
“He had a testimony about how God saved his life,” Thomas said. “He said while he was on the road he had acquired some ‘habits’ and talked about how much he was smoking and drinking. When he saw himself light one cigarette with another burning in the ash tray, he told himself that day, ‘I need to change.’”
Thomas said she believes God let Ray live longer because he broke those habits.
Fellow band member and caregiver Joe Collier said Ray always taught new band members what to do — or not to do — working with Brown.
“He told you things that could be the difference between you getting promoted or getting fired,” Collier said. “But you couldn’t ask for a better friend.”