Maceo Parker of Kinston Brought the Funk
On February 14, 1943, saxophonist Maceo Parker was born in Kinston. Perhaps best known for his work with James Brown, Parker brought funk to the soul music of the James Brown Band. For nearly 20 years, Brown’s call “Maceo, I want you to Blow!” summoned his unique sound.
Parker was exposed to music early. His father played at least two instruments, and both of his parents sang for their church. His brother was also musical, and the pair joined James Brown’s band together in 1964. He has gone on to collaborate with a host of artists including George Clinton, Prince, Ray Charles, James Taylor, the Dave Matthews Band and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Among Parker’s many accolades and awards are the 2003 Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, the 2012 Les Victoires du Jazz in Paris Lifetime Achievement Award and the Icon Award at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam.
Parker tours internationally to this day. He is featured in the book African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina, published by the North Carolina Arts Council, and in 2016 he was recognized with a North Carolina Heritage Award.