Culp, Napoleon Brown
Brown’s intense, shouting rhythm-and-blues vocal style remained rooted in gospel but was also distinguished by his unusual rolling of consonants.
Musician. “Nappy” Brown was born Napoleon Brown Culp in Charlotte, North Carolina, on October 12, 1929. A powerful singer and sometimes outrageous performer, Brown became identified as a South Carolina artist after settling in the Columbia area in the late 1960s. He is best known, however, for the popular recordings he made while living in Newark, New Jersey, during the 1950s heyday of rhythm and blues. Brown got his start in gospel music in the 1940s as a member of the Golden Bells, Selah Jubilee Singers, and Heavenly Lights. After turning to rhythm and blues in the mid-1950s, he became a mainstay at Savoy Records, recording the national hits “Don’t Be Angry,” “Pitter Patter,” and “It Don’t Hurt No More.” Brown’s intense, shouting rhythm-and-blues vocal style remained rooted in gospel but was also distinguished by his unusual rolling of consonants. A prison term reportedly sidetracked Brown for much of the 1960s, and he returned to the gospel field in the 1970s, recording an album for Savoy as Napoleon Brown and the Southern Sisters. Drawing on his signature vocal style, uninhibited stage antics, and penchant for licentious lyrics, Brown changed directions once again to become a fixture on the contemporary blues scene during the 1980s and 1990s, cutting albums for various labels including Landslide, Alligator, Black Top, Ichiban, and New Moon.
Santelli, Robert. The Big Book of Blues. New York: Penguin, 1993.