Keith Jenkins spent 12 years playing guitar in James Brown's final band, The Soul Generals. He was enlisted for Get On Up to give the 80 or so musicians cast as members of Brown's legendary bands, The Famous Flames and The JBs, a taste of life working for the Godfather of Soul.
"We wanted them to feel like a real band," says Margaret Yen, Get On Up's music supervisor. "The James Brown band, whatever incarnation it was, rehearsed and played all the time. I wanted the same kind of bonding and camaraderie, and I wanted it reflected on camera."
It worked. The musicians, who appear in 13 different configurations throughout the film, hung out after shooting and played music at bars around Natchez and Jackson, Miss. Many were college students at Alcorn State and Jackson State, a few were local musicians, and some drove the three hours from New Orleans. They rehearsed in the basement theater of an unheated, shuttered middle school in Natchez.