Antipodean fans of James Brown are celebrating after the soul star was granted a visa to perform in New Zealand, even though people with criminal convictions are usually banned from the country.

Brown, 70 - who's currently awaiting a trial in a domestic violence case involving his wife - received a special event work visa from the government to perform a "one night only" show in the northern city of Auckland tonight (30MAR04).

Immigration Service spokesman BRETT SOLVANDER says, "In deciding to approve a special visa for Mr Brown, the minister felt that the benefits of allowing Mr Brown to visit New Zealand outweighed any conflicting concerns associated with his visit."

Last month (MAY03) Brown was pardoned by the Georgia state board for seven convictions he had collected over 10 years, mostly involving weapons.

He has further convictions involving assault, drugs and high-speed car chases.

30/03/2004 13:59