Charles Thomson is recognised as an authority on the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. He has written about the star for publications including MOJO, Wax Poetics, Huffington Post, Sawf News and Orchard Times.
Interviewing the singer's closest collaborators and confidantes, Charles has produced a string of in-depth features, which have won praise from Brown's friends and family.
In 2009 Charles received a prestigious Guardian Award for his feature 'James Brown: The Lost Album', in which he used extensive interviews to tell the story of the Godfather of Soul's final recording sessions. His interest in the sessions had begun three years earlier, when he spoke to Brown at a press conference months before his death.
On Friday 27th October 2006 Charles was one of only two non-BBC journalists invited to a press conference with James Brown, to promote the star's appearance at the BBC's Electric Proms festival. Specially invited by Brown's press officer, Charles spoke to Brown about his forthcoming album. Part their discussion was included in the BBC's 'Electric Proms Round-Up' documentary.
During the discussion Brown hinted at discord in his camp, making the eery comment, "Somebody's gonna have to die before we get that out. I won't say much more than that." Brown died less than two months later.
After two years, with no sign of the album being released, Charles went in search of the tracks, interviewing band members, session musicians, backing singers, managers, studio engineers and songwriters who worked on the recording sessions. He published the resulting article in his own music magazine - JIVE - and scooped the 'Feature Writer of the Year - Special Commendation' award at the Guardian Student Media Awards 2009. The judges described it as 'a poignant portrait of a man in his last days' and 'the best piece of student journalism we'd read in a long time, if not ever'.
In February 2008 Charles was dispatched by US black music journal Wax Poetics to interview Brown's former bandleader, Fred Wesley. During the interview Wesley spoke about his work on Brown's final album and how he had coped with his mentor's death. Some of the material was later included in the award-winning JIVE article.
In a second piece for Wax Poetics, Charles attended the European premiere of the documentary, 'The Night James Brown Saved Boston' and interviewed the director David Leaf.
In June 2009 Charles produced a story for MOJO entitled 'Godfather's Farewell'. The story concerned the online release of James Brown's last known recording, 'I Still Stand', for which Charles interviewed the singer's friend and producer Derrick Monk.
In Spring 2010 Charles became the first journalist to debunk a story that Brown's body had been stolen from its crypt. After speaking to two of Brown's children, Charles was the first journalist to issue a denial on behalf of the singer's family, published by Sawf News. He was later interviewed about the story on Los Angeles radio station KPFA-FM.
In October 2010 James Brown's widow, Tomi Rae Brown, granted Charles the most in-depth interview she had ever given to any reporter, speaking in detail about her life with James Brown, including his arrest for domestic assault in 2004 and his subsequent battle with cancer. The interview also produced the shocking revelation that trustees had ordered Brown's legs to be cut off in order to carry out a paternity test. The interview was published on Christmas Day 2010, the fourth anniversary of Brown's death.
In 2013 Charles published a feature titled 'The Big Payback', in which he interviewed James Brown's daughters about a series of charitable ventures they had fought to continue running in his name since his death in 2006. Brown's friend and producer Derrick Monk, also interviewed for the article, told Charles the article reduced him to tears.
In 2014 Charles interviewed some of Brown's most legendary collaborators - including Pee Wee Ellis, Jabo Starks and Clyde Stubblefield - for a Huffington Post article, titled 'The Highs and Lows', about life on the road with the 'Hardest Working Man in Showbusiness'. A year earlier he had interviewed Bootsy Collins for the UK's Yellow Advertiser newspaper series.
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