Venisha Brown fought addiction but never lost her faith, say sisters

Venisha Brown always amazed people with her dancing skills.

Of all the children of the “Godfather of Soul” she’s the one who could most closely mimic the incredible dancing skills of her famous father, James Brown.

“She was very, very, very talented,” said her sister, Deanna Brown Thomas, 

president  of the  James Brown Family Foundation.

Venisha Brown, the daughter of the legendary performer and the late Yvonne Fair, formerly of the Chantels,  died Wednesday night in Augusta from complications from pneumonia.

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She was 53.

Venisha Brown grew up in California, where she lived with her mother and attended Hollywood High School. She would come South  to visit James Brown during the summers and on some holidays.

Her life, though, was far from idyllic.

The songwriter and musician struggled with addiction, said her sisters, Brown Thomas and Yamma Brown.

Venisha Brown, center, performed some dance moves at the funeral of her father, music legend James Brown, in December 2006. Venisha Brown died Wednesday. (Annette Brown/Getty Images)

“She struggled with addiction, which most people know, a lot of her adult life,” said Yamma Brown. “Fortunately, she had good family support. My dad was her support structure for a lot of years.”

Like many with addictions, it was a constant struggle. She could be clean for a while, then slide back into her addiction then become clean again.

And she was also arrested several times.

In 2012, Venisha Brown was arrested for stealing her boss’ SUV and later  injuring her outside a bank in North Augusta.

“There were plenty of arrests,” said Brown Thomas. “Not just one or two. I would help my sister in California. I would go into the jail and visit her...I would be there and do whatever I possibly could. It got to the point where there was only so much I could do. She had a crack addiction and she struggled with that.”

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Venisha Brown moved to Georgia in 1997. Her father died on Christmas Day 2006

In later years, she had overcome her addiction. She was active in the James Brown Family Foundation

Venisha Brown didn’t hide from her past. She would also take time to talk with young people about her struggles. 


She’s say “don’t do what I did,” said Brown Thomas. “Don’t make the same mistakes that I did.”

Yamma Brown said her sister’s health deteriorated over the years, most likely from the drug abuse, however “she didn’t lose her mind. She was very strong willed. She had all her faculties together... She was weak in her body, but definitely strong in her mind to the end.”

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She also had a strong belief in God.

Ultimately, her body failed and “she just couldn’t make it out of it,” said Yamma Brown. “She was just a little bitty thing. When she passed away, she had lost so much weigh, but you would have thought she was a gorilla the way she was fighting.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils. 

 JAMP is a musical, instrumental, initiative year-round educational hub designed for the youth to discover their musical ability

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