A public appeal was made today that could see Dayton truly stake claim to the title “funkiest place on the Earth.”
On what would have been funk pioneer James Brown’s 80th birthday, Dayton Funk Dynasty Group CEO David Webb asked for “$10 from 10 million” funk music fans to establish the Funk Hall of Fame in this city.
An account has been established at Chase Bank.
“We are bringing back the funk,” he said during a press conference outside of the Old Court House in downtown Dayton.”We are bringing Dayton back on the map.”
His organization’s second phase would include The Dayton Fly Records, the Groove Line Restaurant, the Legends of Funk Tour, the Funky Walk of Stars, the Funk Awards, a school of performing arts and a monthly magazine called the “Funk Chronicles.”
Once we complete of our project, in Dayton,Ohio, we would truly be the funkiest place on Earth,” Webb said. “Our overall goal is to preserve the history of funk music.”
The group also would support the building of the King Studio and Hall of Fame in Cincinnati.
A subsidiary of King Records launched the career of James Brown.
Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell said the organization’s vision has great potential.
“This can happen. It is going to be a global effort,” he said. “There are funk fans all over the world.”
Leitzell, who helped present the group’s plan to city planners, said donations should come not only from funk fans, but rap artists who have for years profited from funk music by sampling the genre that was at its height in the 1970s.
Some of funk’s most popular artists are from Dayton and other parts of Ohio.
Dayton native Brenda Curtis, a founder of the Dayton Funk Dynasty Group, said a local funk museum has been her dream for 25 years. A documentary is now being filmed about the group’s efforts.
Curtis said she has discussed the idea over the years with two former mayors before bringing it to Leitzell.
Details have not be fully formalized, but Curtis said The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland is among the institutions the group is using as a model.
“We took some of the most successful models that have to do with music and are bringing them all to Dayton and funking them up,” she said.
Curtis hopes the museum is up and running within two years. Ultimately, she said the museum will be the center of an entertainment district that includes the elements mentioned as part of her group’s second phase.
This is the second of two funk museums underway.
Curtis said her group’s museum differs from the Land of Funk Museum planned for the Wright Dunbar Inc.’s Legacy Center on West Third St. as her museum and plan will be on a larger scale and have a broader focus.
“Our main objective here in Dayton is to honor what we already have and to create a new generation of funk,” she said.
Curtis said President Obama’s campaign fund-raising efforts prove that small donations from many people can make a major impact.
“If we can get 10 million people to donate $10 (for) our funk hall of fame, we can build it tomorrow,” she said. “But what we really would like the all funk fans to understand is that we are trying to celebrate this. We are trying to do something that has been 40 years in the making. Our funk artists have only been celebrated in R&B and hip hop music and it is time for us to make this official for them because their life’s work has been funk music.”
Dayton is the ideal place for the music, Curtis said.
The city is nicknamed the Land of Funk.
Dayton funk bands such as the Ohio Players , Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame, Zapp, Faze-O, Heatwave, Sun, Slave and Lakeside have been applauded nationally, but there is no permanent physical monument to their work here or elsewhere.
Members of several of those bans attended the press conference.
Thomas Shelby of Lakeside was among those who said it is high time the legacy of funk is recognized on a grand scale. He donated a performance outfit for the museum.
“It is 50 years past due,” he said. “No other place in the world had more funk bands than Dayton, Ohio.”
James “Diamond” Williams of the Ohio Players said Dayton’s funk artists deserve bronze statues. A Dayton street should be named “Ohio Players Way,” he said.
“It will only help Dayton,” he said. “It will bring some kind of name to Dayton.”
Contact this writer at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth
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