Deanna Brown Thomas, daughter of the late, great James Brown, was recently on the Studio W Buzz network dropping gems left and right about how to be successful as a radio personality, on “It’s It’s High Time,” hosted by Martha High. I listened and took notes because I can always improve. Thomas mentioned that having the gift of gab is vital; you can’t afford to have dead air and risk listeners tuning out. I thought about how many times I had been in the middle of a dead air moment and I cringed!
I kept listening as Thomas educated the radio audience about her life, with a smile – I couldn’t see her since she was doing live radio, however, I could hear the smile.
The conversation transitioned away from the radio business when Will, (Studio W Buzz CEO and founder) asked the question that led me into some self-reflection: “why are you so passionate about giving back?” You can tell a lot about a person and their views by the way they answer questions like these.
Without hesitation, Thomas began to recall memories that she had with her father and how generous he was. She talked about one moment in particular when they were driving on the highway, limo-style, in California. Brown sat with his daughter, teaching her about giving back and being a genuine person. Thomas explained that from her perspective, Brown had always been generous and cared about people.
Brown asked the driver to stop. Telling a young Thomas to “watch this.” You know whenever a parent says “watch this,” to pay attention because you’re about to learn something. The driver pulled over to an area where members of the homeless community were. Brown began speaking with some of the community, talking to them and encouraging them to get back on their feet. He provided some resources (money) so they could eat. We hear about stories like these from celebrities often, but for some reason, the visual I got in mind stuck me. I thought about how intentional Brown’s actions were in that moment; he was modeling to an impressionable Thomas, how to be generous. And now, years later, Thomas was intentionally sharing that story with the radio audience. Brown’s legacy of generosity was continuing with new life.
I have been reflecting on the moments that Thomas shared, thinking to myself, “okay, I don’t have James Brown money – hell, I barely have any money right now, but I can still be generous… how can I make sure that I am generous in this season of life where things are so off-balance?”
That thought helped trigger many memories of my childhood and how my parents modeled and encouraged generosity in our household.
My parents made sure I was involved in our community and took pride in it. I volunteered in church, I was a candy striper at the local hospital, I helped ring the bell for Salvation Army, donated and helped pass out items at the local nursing homes, and I participated in pretty much every youth church event there was and my parents did too. I remembered that once upon a time my family modeled multiple ways to be a caring, thoughtful person. My parents encouraged me to give my time generously and when possible to give money too. (Not all of your money though – you have to be able to live – find a balance that works for you.)
As we prepare to go into a season of thankfulness and generous giving, let’s all remember those life lessons that we have learned along the way. Don’t keep all of those stories to yourself – share them with people so that they can learn, and grow.
Thank you Deanna Brown Thomas for sharing your memories and sharing some of your key moments with us – your timing couldn’t have been better.