Daughter speaks about Brown

Special
Mitchell

Another unacknowledged child of James Brown - confirmed as his daughter through DNA testing - has come forward, saying she regrets she never got to prove to him that she's his.

Jeanette Mitchell, 36, a full-time mother of four living in Miami, said she has known since childhood that the late soul and funk icon is her father. But he never admitted it. Her mother fought him unsuccessfully for child support, Ms. Mitchell said, and when she was grown her father stood her up after agreeing to have paternity tests done.

"I wanted him to know that I was his daughter," she said. "I always claimed him as my dad. If anyone asked who my father was, I said, 'James Brown.' "

Since his death on Christmas Day in Atlanta, Mr. Brown's estate trustees have been facilitating DNA tests through North Carolina-based LabCorp in order to refute or confirm anyone claiming to be his offspring. Though Mr. Brown's will names six heirs, his grandchildren through other progeny could be entitled to school funds from the James Brown Family Education Trust.

Of about a dozen people who have been tested, three tests have come back positive so far, trustee Buddy Dallas said Wednesday. At least one came back negative, he said. He and Rodney Peeples, an attorney for the trustees, have declined to identify persons being tested.

Ms. Mitchell is the second of the three positives to come forward. LaRhonda Petitt, 45, of Houston, now identified as Mr. Brown's eldest daughter, gave The Augusta Chronicle her LabCorp results earlier this month.

As with her half-sister, Ms. Mitchell's lab document shows a 99.99 percent probability that she's Mr. Brown's daughter - which is as close as DNA tests come to proving parentage.

The newfound sisters have been talking on the phone daily during the past week, they said.

Each of their mothers met the performer the same way: During a concert in their towns, he spotted them in the crowd, then arranged for them to go backstage. Ms. Mitchell would say little about her mother, Christine Mitchell, other than that she met her father at a concert in Miami, they had a long-term relationship and she died of meningitis in 1991 at age 46.

When Ms. Mitchell was born in 1970, Mr. Brown was divorced from his first wife, Velma Warren. A month after the birth, he married Deidre Jenkins.

Ms. Mitchell said that her mother, her grandmother and her aunts told her who her dad is. As a teenager, she became fascinated with the singer and his music. At 15, a family friend, Guy Norman, took her to a concert in Miami Beach and arranged for her to meet her father backstage.

There was a hello, a handshake and a kiss on the cheek, Ms. Mitchell said. She remembers Mr. Norman saying to Mr. Brown, "Later on, I have a remarkable story to tell you about this young woman."

"I was very nervous," Ms. Mitchell said. "And it was funny, because there were a thousand things I could think of to say during the ride to Miami Beach. But then when we got face-to-face, I couldn't open my mouth. I think I was in shock."

In 2000, she contacted Mr. Brown through mutual acquaintances and arranged a meeting with him at James Brown Enterprises on Augusta West Parkway. According to Ms. Mitchell, he told her that they would have a DNA test done and that if she was truly his daughter she and her family would be provided for and he would make up for lost time.

They agreed to meet again the following Monday to go to a lab. He didn't show.

"From that day on, I never contacted him again," she said. "I was distraught."

Ms. Mitchell, who has hired an attorney, would not say whether she plans to make a claim to the estate.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.