'He was more than the cape man': James Brown emcee Danny Ray honored at funeral

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Amanda King, Augusta Chronicle
·2 min read
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He spent years draping the Godfather of Soul with decorative capes, but on Saturday, James Brown's daughter, Deanna Brown-Thomas, honored his longtime hype man by draping a cape over Danny Ray's casket. Ray did the same thing over Brown's casket after he died in 2006.

Thomas was among family and friends to speak about Ray.

"He had a testimony about how God saved his life," she 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 by kicking those habits she believed God allowed him to live longer.

Deanna Brown-Thomas, daughter of the late soul singer James Brown, drapes one of her father's capes over the casket of Danny Ray, the famous emcee and cape man for James Brown, Saturday morning Feb. 13, 2021, at the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Ga. Ray also draped a cape over the casket of James Brown during his funeral in 2006.
Deanna Brown-Thomas, daughter of the late soul singer James Brown, drapes one of her father's capes over the casket of Danny Ray, the famous emcee and cape man for James Brown, Saturday morning Feb. 13, 2021, at the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Ga. Ray also draped a cape over the casket of James Brown during his funeral in 2006.

Fellow band member and caregiver Joe Collier remembered Ray as someone who was always teaching new band members the do's and don'ts of working with Brown.

"He told you things that could be the difference between you getting promoted or getting fired," he said. "But you couldn't ask for a better friend."

The funeral for Danny Ray, the famous emcee and cape man for James Brown, Saturday morning Feb. 13, 2021, at the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Ga.
The funeral for Danny Ray, the famous emcee and cape man for James Brown, Saturday morning Feb. 13, 2021, at the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Ga.

The public funeral was held at the James Brown Arena where Ray and Brown performed multiple times over Brown's career. More than 100 friends, family and fans in attendance and the service was streamed on the James Brown Family Foundation's Facebook page.

Michael Thomas of Miami attended the funeral dressed in a sweatshirt with Ray's picture on the front and back. He brought a dozen white roses to lay at the casket during the viewing portion of the service. Thomas said he has known Ray his entire life and felt like a piece of his "chessboard" had been removed from his life.

The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks via video during the funeral for Danny Ray, the famous emcee and cape man for James Brown, Saturday morning Feb. 13, 2021, at the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Ga.
The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks via video during the funeral for Danny Ray, the famous emcee and cape man for James Brown, Saturday morning Feb. 13, 2021, at the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Ga.

Rev. Al Sharpton appeared via video due to COVID-19 restrictions to his schedule. Sharpton said he expects Brown and Ray are now performing again "on the other side."

"His voice set the tone for the James Brown show," he 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."

Following the viewing and funeral service, Ray's body was laid to rest at Walker Memorial Park in Augusta.

More: Danny Ray, James Brown's longtime emcee and cape man, dies at 85

This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: James Brown cape man Danny Ray honored by Al Sharpton, more at funeral