Former James Brown collaborator finds a different mission
Derrick Monk was born in Dallas, Texas, and got his musical start in Oakland, California, when he and his brothers signed with Fantasy Records. His career got an extra boost when he joined up with James Brown in 1992 and moved to Augusta.
Brown offered Monk the position of A&R director/producer/songwriter for “The New James Brown Enterprises,” and that changed his career, and in many respects, his life, forever.
“Me and him was like father and son,” recalls Monk. “That was my best friend for a long time. Every car I got, he bought it. I was his producer. I produced over five albums on James Brown. I wasn’t just a musician or a singer, I wrote the songs.”
It was a great opportunity for Monk, who was just 21 years old at the time, to work with James Brown.
“Being with James Brown, that was like a dream come true,” explains Monk. “You know, James Brown being who he was.”
He laughs and quickly adds a caveat.
“But I didn’t exactly come up in the James Brown era, so I wasn’t starstruck, which may have been ignorance on my half,” he says. “I was raised up in the Michael Jackson era, you know what I mean? James Brown was more in my mom and my dad’s era. But the older I get and I realize all the things that he’s done and all the blueprints he’s put down, I’m like, ‘Wow! I didn’t even know who he was!’ and he used to tell me that all the time ‘Mr. Monk, you don’t know who I am, son!’ I used to have fun with him. So that was kind-of a dream come true.”
And it’s a dream whose importance he realizes more and more every passing day.
“The more I live and the older I get the more I realize the blessing I had just being up under him,” Monk says. “A lot of times you can be around something and you don’t realize the importance of them until they’re gone. That’s why I still talk about him every day or mention something about something he said to me every day. I spent countless hours in the studio with him, just being groomed and chiseled and learning a lot of stuff that no other musician in the world would ever learn because he invested that time all with me.”
James Brown died Christmas 2005, but Monk’s career didn’t end with the passing of The Godfather of Soul. It’s just taken a different, but familiar path for Monk.
“Since the death of James Brown I have really just totally given my life over Christ,” says Monk. “And I have people all the time telling me, ‘Why don’t you write a book?’ ‘Why don’t you use James Brown’s name for this or that?’ And I never got with James Brown for that. I got with James Brown because I genuinely loved the man. At the end of the day it wasn’t about making money and even today it’s not about making money… I believe that God will provide. If you do the right thing, I believe that our Father will do the right thing. I was raised in church all my life – so coming out of the church, my dad being a pastor and my mom being an evangelist – I was in the church anyway. That’s where I learned how to play, that’s where I learned how to sing… It was the church that got me started and that’s where I am right now. I came back home to the Lord. And that’s working for me.”
Now, Monk is spreading the word here in Augusta, at the Kroc Center.
“I got the second Sunday of each month at the Kroc Center. And what we’re trying to do there is ‘Amazing Praise and Worship,’” says Monk. “I’m just trying to do something uplift and motivate the area… to continue to build that spirit of giving back to the public. When God is good to you want to give back to the community.”
Derrick Monk in Concert
The Kroc Center
Sunday, February 10 | 4 p.m.; doors open at 3 p.m. | Free
706-364-KROC | krocaugusta.org You Might Also Like: