THE EVOLUTION OF FUNK FROM MUSIC TO A MOTION PICTURE
FUNK music is mysterious and has probably been around on the planet Earth in one form or another for longer than recorded time. It was suggested that even the most advanced civilizations known to have inhabited the Earth, those responsible for the mysterious pyramids around the globe, understood the equations of funk music and practiced music in every scenario governing their way of life. They understood that Funk is a spirited vibration of song, music and syncopation laced with intent, a spirit set to a beat and tune that cuts through the obvious to the core of most living beings from whom funky music’s influence emanates. Once you have been touched by the Funk in music, you are changed forever. Music is the greatest vibratory power in the universe, and funk is supposedly its highest form. Think of Funk as the essence that multiplies the vibratory nature of music to the Nth degree.
Whenever people are moved by song to dance and feel and share the emotions of music together, it is the funk that fuses them all into a cipher that creates a single shared experience, despite how many it touches at one time.
I remember when I first began taking Kung Fu many years ago, I asked my teacher what was the meaning of Kung Fu. He told me that Kung Fu was not the martial art itself. He explained that I could have Kung Fu in anything. Having Kung Fu simply meant that you had mastered something. You could have Kung Fu as a singer, dancer, rapper, architect and/or even a plumber. Kung Fu in music, to me, produces the highest form of funk. The “P Funk,” as George Clinton so aptly stated, stands for Pure.
So, Funk, in my mind, actually began in music that was played in a way that gave itself meaning through the conveyance of a cosmic consciousness derived from the African expression of universal law and spiritual resonance. Understanding how to emote the funk vibration and magnify it through the use of music, lyric and dance was made possible through trial and error. Through these frequencies musicians have been able to touch all those who hear and feel the stank of it. Those who are most affected by it, are infected by that vibe causing them to replicate the vibratory experience in a way that made them feel that they had to re-express the funk they heard in an even funkier way because the funk they heard beforehand caused them to emote its vibration together as one rather than individuals. If you play close attention, most musicians, when they are really playing good funk have an expression on their faces like they are smelling something funky. Now I can’t be certain, but it occurs to me that might be where the name of the music originates from.
The African American expression of Funk was born out of the African American experience in America. It came out of a time when African Americans had been subjected to many wrongs that they were virtually powerless to correct for many years. Their powerlessness gave them the ability to vibrate collectively together as a natural unconscious defense mechanism. That defense mechanism is the vibration we call soul or funk music today. The energy derived from funk music can be and is astounding. I am not the greatest historian on Funk music, nor theoretic, and there may be some out there who will disagree with some, if not all, of what I have to say in this brief recall of the history of funk. If they, or you, disagree I view that as a good thing.
Many will point to Dayton, Ohio as one of the cities that gave birth and rise to funk music. It is a good argument, and we can never discount the vibrancy and growth that funk was given from the many diverse performers who worked to perfect the sound of funk music from Dayton, Ohio.
DAYTON, OHIO: The Land Of Funk
Run Time: 7:07
Remember, others also contributed to funk mightily and historically. Motown had one of the most fantastic group of musicians to ever record with artists they called themselves “THE FUNK BROTHERS”. There was not one member of that band who had the last name of Funk.
The name evolved out of the sessions that they had as musicians when one of their 13 members dubbed them the Funk Brothers. It has been said that Motown’s Funk Brothers played on more number one hits than the Beatles, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys combined.
George Clinton Talks About “THE FUNK BROTHERS” Run Time 05:13
STAX Records was another great contributor to the evolution of the funk sound and vibe.
There were many progressions of soul music from which Funk music is a direct offspring.
In order to appreciate and enjoy the rich history of funk, you have got to follow the history
of soul music. There is no getting around that. Soul Music, Gospel, Jazz and Funk, all evolved as integral parts of the same whole for the same reasons.
The History Of STAX RECORDS Run Time 11:37
THE FIRST FUNK IN FILM “CURTIS MAYFIELD?”
He appeared as if out of nowhere. If you were a person who was not a musician on the scene where music was being created every day, you probably wouldn’t have heard of him. Curtis Mayfield was a singer/songwriter known for his spiritual and culturally conscious soul and funky music and songs. Curtis Mayfield scored a number one album with his score for the film SUPERFLY, a 1972 Black-ploitation film. It was the first time that real Funk made its debut in a motion picture, and it was the genius of this musician entrepreneur that showed that soul/funk music was indeed richly cinematic and a box office draw. The soundtrack for the film SUPERFLY was as big a seller, if not bigger than the film itself. In my mind, it marked a great leap for soul/funk music into the realm of motion picture making. After Curtis Mayfield did it, many artists were tapped to create soundtracks for films, like Isaac Hayes. Funk music was on the rise, especially the Curtis Mayfield brand of funk. After SUPERFLY and SHAFT, another 1971 Black-ploitation film, motion picture music was changed forever. Funky tracks in films became desirable, but we believe that no one has ever done a funky movie track like the ones we plan to produce for STARFUNK and the ASTRAL PIONEERS.
This brief history of Funk is intended not only to enlighten you, but to remind you that funk music has history, influence and power. That history, influence and power is tied intricately
into who we are as a people today, American people. It has influenced our musical growth in so many important facets of our society in the process. It is from the past that we should build the future. It is trial and error that determines what works, what brings success, and what the components are that make up happiness and fulfill our dreams, desires and wishes. FUNK can be included as a positive experience from which we should continue to grow, nurture and experience and celebrate.
HOW DID PRESENT DAY FUNK MUSIC GET ITS CELESTIAL SPACE, COSMIC CONCEPT?
We have all heard of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. We know about the “Mothership Connection,” but this concept of funk music was not the original cosmic conceptual creation of George Clinton and his mighty funky P Funk Band. At their concerts, the “Mothership Connection” would drop to the stage and Parliament Funkadelic would delight the crowd by infusing them with P Funk and presenting them with characters that were out of this world. The music was so, so FUNKY and cosmic in form, yet relatable from an Earthly point of view. Their show, with the myriad strange characters, was too deep for most. They seemed like they could be comic book characters. The one truth that they all held was that they were from another world, a different reality, a musical existence, a separated plane with no musical rules, and on that world, in that reality, at that very moment, Funk music was the answer to everything, the all seeing “I”. It was phenomenal, y’all, but not the first cosmic musical elaboration.
PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC “BRING THE FUNK” Run Time: 03:36
WHO WAS SUN RA?
The first African American to utilize that concept in music was known as SUN RA, born Herman Poole Blount.
SUN RA was a phenomenal musician who had many of the greatest jazz musicians in the world come and play with him and his ARKESTRA. The “ARK” was SUN RA’s spaceship and the ARKESTRA were the musicians who played upon and propelled it. The music they played was a jazz fusion that still had not been defined as what we call present day funk. However, if you listen to it, you can hear the strains of music that would someday come to define funk as we know it today.
SUN RA FACE THE MUSIC / SPACE IS THE PLACE, Run Time: 9:07
SUN RA’s “ARK” would land in this film and they, his ARKESTRA, would appear from out of his spacecraft from the cosmic void playing their instruments, sometimes singing and dancing.
It was suggesting that his “ARK”, spacecraft, was propelled by music. The music was a sort of cosmic Jazz fusion that one could say was most likely a precursor to present day funk music void of the trappings of commercial popular appeal. Although his music was intriguing and always enlightening and entertaining, his crew would be adorned in other worldly attire and his message was basically that music and musical vibration could power anything and had the ability to transform destiny enough to save Earth from the present path of destruction that it has taken.
SUN RA: Space Is The Place (Movie) Run Time: 15:00
SUN RA was celebrated around the world. He and his ARKESTRA were the only group that the Egyptian Government would allow to play on top of the great pyramids of Giza. He was famous around the world and welcomed whenever and wherever they appeared. His musicians, dancers and singers were deeply devoted to him, very similarly as was James Brown’s crew and Parliament Funkadelic’s members were dedicated to George Clinton & James Brown, respectively. At the nucleus of their success resided the fact that they were like a big, talented musical family creating the same funky vibration.
THE FATHER OF MODERN DAY FUNK?
Before Parliament there was James Brown and the people who influenced him as an artist.
The father of Rock-N-Roll, Chuck Berry, influenced every performer who has had success since he exploded on the scene and his essence can be seen and heard in James Brown’s works and compositions to this very day.
Chuck Berry, “NADINE”
JAMES BROWN THE FUNK MASTER
James Brown, however, was an original unique, and exciting artist who took that Chuck Berry influence and turned it into his own thing. With his driving rhythms and beats, complete with sensational horn sections and soul stirring vocals accompanied by his undulating “Call and Response” technique and his electrifying dance style, James Brown took over the stage, the country and the world with FUNK music. They called James Brown the “God Father of Soul,” but they left out the “Master of Funk”. If you went to a James Brown concert, you were sure to get a massive dose of funk in your life at his concerts.
JAMES BROWN: SEX MACHINE, GOOD FOOT, SOUL POWER,
ESCAPISM, MIKE IT FUNKY
James Brown’s brand of soul music funk, during those early days, was solely a Black thing.
It had not yet entered the mainstream where people of other cultures embraced this form of funk and idolized its intentional sound of overcoming hardship to win and party about that victory. It was also a great way to give serious messages to those for whom the music was created.
Earth Wind & Fire, BOOGIE WONDERLAND
BOOTSY COLLINS – STRETCHIN’ OUT
With various forms of the Funk vibration came funk of different styles and forms, but most of them embraced the cosmic ideation of funk in their attitudes, performances styles and production styles.
Over the years, funk music has made many fans worldwide and inspired many others to come forward to push its boundaries in many diverse, profound and musically entertaining directions. The list of Funk group players and styles are such that it is nearly impossible to name them all: Parliament Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins, George Duke, George Clinton, The ZAP Band, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Rick James, Prince, Average White Band and many more. People from all cultures create and expand the vibratory musical influence of funk. The present African American spawn has morphed itself to become a great ambassador to cultures all over the world that makes friends easily through the ears who hear it. Today, we have funk bands and players such as Brian Culbertson and Funk Superstar, BRUNO MARS and his band of funky musicians.
THE NEXT PHASE OF FUNK MUSIC
STARFUNK and the ASTRAL PIONEERS is the next natural progression of funk music. We are going to funk up motion picture theaters through our movie and tell a great story while feeding the minds, ears and spirits of adoring fans with some great funk music. STARFUNK and the ASTRAL PIONEERS is a script that has risen from the history, the legend, and the mythology
of funk. There has never been a motion picture that has dealt with the cosmic legend surrounding funk music like Starfunk and the Astral Pioneers does. The mythology that Funk has arrived on Earth as a cosmic vibration that originated beyond Earth is what inspired me to write the story told in this motion picture screenplay. As a matter of fact, Funk music is probably the only connection the screenplay has to planet Earth. Although, ironically, several of the plot lines seem to be true of conditions that currently exist on Earth. I know and so will everyone else after seeing this movie, Funk is universal.
STARFUNK and the ASTRAL PIONEERS, is an Award Winning Film waiting to be made. It has a fresh and unique story, characters, places, situations and swashbuckling circumstances. It is the brainstorm of Glenn Towery, who is an award winning film director, screenplay and theater author. Glenn graduated from Columbia College Hollywood film school, as its first African American valedictorian in 1997. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Cinema from that school and was Magna Cum Laude. Glenn is now 65 years old. He retired as a counselor to at risk children and youth where he worked in Los Angeles, CA. He is also a Vietnam Combat Veteran who has suffered the debilitating symptoms of PTSD. Glenn wants to bring this wonderful story of funk to life and, at the same time, fulfill his dream of becoming a successful filmmaker. If you love funk, if you would like to see a historic funky movie, if you believe in making dreams come true, support this effort to produce this film, STARFUNK and the ASTRAL PIONEERS.
Evolve-Olution of Funk Playlist: