Five years in the past, a circus singer referred to as to say James Brown was murdered


One Tuesday afternoon in 2017, the cellphone rang at my desk in CNN Heart. On the road was a girl who advised me, “James Brown did not die the way they said he died. And I have proof of it.” The caller’s title was Jacque Hollander. She was a singer for the Carson & Barnes Circus.

The circus singer made one wild declare after one other. I took a number of notes and politely ended the decision. Even when she was telling the reality, I couldn’t think about how she would show it. James Brown, one of many best entertainers in American historical past, died at a hospital in Atlanta in 2006, formally of pure causes. I had no cause to suspect foul play.

However the circus singer stored calling. She stored saying Brown had been murdered. She stored telling me she had proof to again up all her claims. Lastly, my editor stated I’d as properly go see what this lady was speaking about.

And so, on a sizzling day in late spring, I took a visit to the circus.

The story turned out to be even deeper and stranger than it appeared. Five years later, I’m nonetheless untangling all of the threads. Even after my investigative sequence was revealed in 2019, I knew there was extra work to do. I found that James Brown’s life was extra mysterious than his demise: layered with deception and intrigue, haunted by the federal government brokers he believed have been following him. After he prevented a riot in Boston in 1968, Brown was satisfied he’d drawn the eye of the FBI and the CIA.

Since taking that unusual cellphone name in 2017, I’ve interviewed greater than 200 folks—together with the physician who signed Brown’s demise certificates and a pal who claimed to have taken a vial of Brown’s blood within the hope it might show Brown was murdered. I’ve gathered information from no less than 14 courthouses. I’ve downloaded textual content messages from the circus singer’s iPhone. I’ve despatched a black stiletto shoe to a lab for forensic evaluation.

I’ve puzzled over the long-lost pages of a deceased informant’s pocket book that may reveal whether or not James Brown’s third spouse, Adrienne, was murdered — and, in that case, who killed her.

In 2021, CNN sued the CIA below the Freedom of Info Act to demand the discharge of confidential paperwork that would rewrite the historical past of the Godfather of Soul. The case is pending. To this present day, the CIA is not going to affirm or deny these paperwork exist.

What occurred after the circus singer’s cellphone name is a narrative that unfolds over eight episodes in “The James Brown Mystery,” a brand new investigative podcast from CNN. It’s a narrative about secrets and techniques, surveillance, and suspicious deaths. It’s in regards to the worry that Brown lived with till the day he died.

And it’s about one lady’s quest to unravel the thriller of the person who ruined her life.

That quest continues, practically 16 years after Brown’s demise. Jacque Hollander is 67 now, recovering from coronary heart surgical procedure and dwelling with a pacemaker. However the different day on the cellphone, she advised me she hasn’t given up. She’s nonetheless satisfied that somebody murdered James Brown, and that somebody murdered Adrienne Brown, and that the killers must be prosecuted.

“Am I gonna quit? No,” she stated. “I can’t just walk away from something I know is the truth.”