James Brown biopic hits home for one Miami daughter

Erick Johnson | 7/24/2014, 11:37 a.m.
Legendary performer and the "Godfather of Soul" James Brown left to the world more than dance moves and music.


Family members said he also tried to avoid Mitchell until she threatened to take him to court to collect child support and gave her an undisclosed amount that would keep Mitchell from speaking about her daughter’s father for the rest of her life.

“That’s when they sold my birthright,” Mitchell-Bellinger said.

When their affair ended, Brown continued to grow in popularity, becoming one of the greatest entertainers in the world and producing 16 number one hits on the R and B charts. Mitchell moved to Miami in 1980, and she died in 1981 of meningitis, a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.

That’s when Frankie and Billie Rolle stepped in as surrogate parents and Mitchell-Bellinger went to live with them in Coconut Grove. She attended Ponce De Leon Junior and Coral Gables Senior High and graduated from Miami Killian in 1989.

“Norman told Brown, there is something that I have to tell you but now is not the time.”

In 2000 she moved to Augusta. That’s where she saw her father for the last time at his business office, James Brown Enterprises. At that meeting, Mitchell-Bellinger and her father reminisced about his relationship with her mother.

Mitchell-Bellinger said as a child she was angry towards Brown for not being there during difficult times.

“I was very angry,” she said. “I didn’t understand why I was a rejected child.”


Brown died early Christmas morning in 2006. His death sparked mourning among fans across the nation. Thousands viewed his body at New York’s famed Apollo Theatre. Another funeral was held in Augusta where Michael Jackson and Al Sharpton were among the dignitaries to pay their respects.

Mitchell-Bellinger still remembers that day vividly.

“I was cooking and wrapping gifts and I just froze,” Mitchell-Bellinger. “That’s why I don’t like Christmas anymore”

Even though her mother often told her that she was James Brown’s daughter, she thought nothing of it. But after Browns’s death and years of prodding from relatives and friends, Mitchell-Bellinger decided to get confirmation.

So in 2007, she went to take a DNA test from what was then Cedars Medical Center. The samples were sent to Labcorp in North Carolina and were be matched with Brown’s bone marrow. The results were confirmed with 99.9 percent accuracy. Two other women claiming to be Brown’s daughters, Larhonda Petitt and Cinnamon Paris took the DNA tests where it was confirmed that hea also was their father. Petit died of lung failure last January and Paris lives in Vancover, Canada.

Mitchell-Bellinger had planned on taking the DNA test before her father died. During her final meeting with Brown in 2000, she said Brown promised to have the DNA test conducted in his office on a Monday morning but he never showed up.


Mitchell-Bellinger won the hearts of Brown’s daughters, Deanna Thomas and Yamma Lumar in her persistence to gain her birthright. After a lengthy six-year court battle in Aiken, S.C., Circuit Court Judge Doyet Early found that Mitchell-Bellinger met the legal requirements to be confirmed as Brown’s daughter.