James Brown (May 3, 1933 - December 25, 2006) was an American singer and songwriter, eventually referred to as "The Godfather of Soul"(GFOS). Brown started singing in gospel groups and worked his way on up. He has been recognized as one of the most iconic figures in the 20th century popular music and was renowned for his vocals and feverish dancing. He was also called "the hardest-working man in show business". Brown began his professional music career in 1956 and rose to fame during the late 1950s and early 1960s on the strength of his thrilling live performances and string of smash hits. In spite of various personal problems and setbacks he continued to score hits in every decade through the 1980s. In addition to his acclaim in music, Brown was also a presence in American political affairs during the 1960s and 1970s.