James Brown returned to center stage for the first time since he went to prison two years ago entertaining 4,000 soldiers whose holiday leaves were canceled because of the Persian Gulf crisis.

Trainees in crew cuts jumped to their feet Christmas Day when the soul singer came out singing his standard, "I Got You (I Feel Good)."Brown sang "God Bless America" to close the show at Fort Jackson, S.C., his first performance since going to prison.

He was on a 72-hour Christmas furlough until Wednesday.

Brown is serving a six-year sentence for aggravated assault, failure to stop for police and weapons violations stemming from a two-state, high-speed chase after which Brown tested positive for PCP use.

In April, after serving 15 months in a prison, Brown entered a work-release program where he counsels youths on drug abuse. He spends his nights at a minimum-security facility and is eligible for parole on March 8.