Brown gives tearful interview

Tomi Rae Brown told Larry King that her once-cordial relationship with James Brown's daughters is now over, and she suspects it might be because of the money at stake.

In a one-on-one interview on CNN's Larry King Live, Mrs. Brown said Deanna Brown and Yamma Brown Lumar have excluded her since the death of her husband and their father Christmas Day.

Mrs. Brown, who sobbed throughout the live interview Wednesday night, said it was particularly hard to take because she was the one who begged Mr. Brown to reconcile with the girls after a rift formed when they sued him for song royalties.

When asked why their relationship had changed, Mrs. Brown said at first she didn't know but then answered, "I think it has to do with money."

The Brown children also were to appear on the show Wednesday but declined because Mrs. Brown was on the show, James Brown attorney Debra Opri said.

Ms. Opri also made veiled threats that Mrs. Brown's behavior was pushing the legal envelope of agreements.

"I'm not here to disparage Tomi Rae, but what she did with the BBC and the London newspaper and here again tonight and at the funeral is inappropriate to the memory of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, and it should stop because she is contractually obligated not to discuss the business and personal issues of James Brown," Ms. Opri said.

Mrs. Brown said that since her husband's death she has not only been cut off from the family emotionally, but also financially and that she and her son, James Brown Jr., still have not been allowed in the Beech Island house they shared with the singer.

Mr. King asked about the son's paternity, with Mrs. Brown saying her son is absolutely Mr. Brown's seventh child.

Ms. Opri, in a separate segment, said the paternity has been questioned.

"I'm saying it's an issue that's going to be resolved very shortly," Ms. Opri said.

Mrs. Brown said Mr. Brown made sure James Jr. was taken care of. On the Saturday before her husband's death Monday, Mrs. Brown said, he told her to take out a check for $80,000 made out to her son and cash it.

"My husband was so smart. He told me that the day he died to go to the bank and get something that he had left for me and my son," she said. "It was a check for $80,000. And then he told me I would need it to take care of him until things went over."

Mr. King asked Ms. Opri about the money.

"If it does exist and she got it, she should enjoy it," Ms. Opri said.

During the call-in portion of the show, a caller from Augusta asked about an apparent argument between Mrs. Brown and the Rev. Al Sharpton during Saturday's public funeral.

Mrs. Brown said an incident occurred when her husband was awarded his posthumous doctorate from Paine College. Each of the three daughters was called to the stage, and Mrs. Brown said she walked up even though she wasn't asked.

The Rev. Sharpton then mispronounced her name, she said, and the two had a short but heated exchange, with Mrs. Brown accusing the Rev. Sharpton of not respecting her.

According to Mrs. Brown, the Rev. Sharpton supposedly said that he'd tried to be nice but that he was finished.

The result, she said, was that she wasn't allowed to speak at the public funeral.

Reach Amy Allyn Swann at (706) 823-3338 or amy.swann@augustachronicle.com. Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or kamille.bostick@augustachronicle.com.

MCCARTNEY WASN'T HERE

Sir Paul McCartney was rumored to be in Augusta last week to say goodbye to James Brown. The former Beatle's New York-based publicist, Paul Freundlich, said Wednesday that Mr. McCartney wasn't in the United States last week and called the report "gossip pages stuff."