The term “Jazzy Belle” was introduced to the masses in 1996 on Outkast’s, multi-platinum selling album ATLiens. How ironic is it that it in the same year of the songs release a real Jazzy Belle would be born to redefine the songs meaning. The Jazzy Belle I’m speaking of is none other than Queens, NY born and St. Louis raised Brianna Brown.
Brianna like most artists became introduced to music at a young age as her mother would play the likes of Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and others throughout the house. Her mother would sing to her and eventually Brianna would sing back, “At one point I would just sing back and I would sing all the time, she would literally tell me, you have to stop singing … just stop, but I never did.” She goes on to say that the bug to perform also bit her pretty early with requesting solos in elementary school performances, then on to Middle School she joined the school choir as soon as she knew one was available. In high school is when she turned up the notch on solo performances as she attended the highly regarded Central Visual Performing Arts.
While at Central VPA Brianna came to the attention of Mr. Tony Thompson Founder of the Kwame Foundation and Live Your Dream Project. Under the mentorship of Mr. Thompson and his TBeats Label Brianna at the age of 16 released her first single, “See with Your Mind” a haunting and soulful groove over soft piano, synth, flute, percussion and her sweet vocal stylings. “Brianna can sing, she is a talented singer and so by being unique…I read a long time ago ‘in order to be irreplaceable one must be different’ and she is different,” says Thompson. Brianna officially became signed to TBeats in 2013.
That was then and this is now and if you want to know who’s hot in the Jazz scene here in St. Louis look no further than the now 18 year old Brianna Brown. Whether on stage or in the studio Brianna is making a name for herself. Letitia McPherson-Young a local business owner and fashion editor for DELUX magazine says, “I love her versatility. She’s just as powerful singing pop and R&B as she is singing jazz.” Still under the guidance of Thompson and the TBeats Label she continues to shine and grow as an artist and performer.
Since the tender age of 5 years old Brianna has been telling the world that she is going to be famous. Apparently, not one to sit on her laurels there’s a hunger for her craft that compels her to keep evolving. Brianna is now a Music Major at Webster University with an emphasis in Jazz. Personal lessons from vocal instructors such as Debby Lennon have helped her in her artistry. Although Brown has just completed her freshman year she believes that Lennon who is also over the schools Jazz Choir has been able to pull some things out of her musically. Music Theory has also been important says Brianna, “theory helps me know what I am doing musically, like if I am doing a certain riff or a certain string of notes I know what I’m doing and I can make decisions based on what I want to give the people in my music”.
Years from now Brianna hopes to be performing R&B and Jazz across the country and around the world. Music is her passion and life in her voice is sheer enthusiasm at the possibility of exposing the world and her generation to the influence of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and others have had on her life. She beams with enthusiasm discussing Kendrick Lamar’s latest project, To Pimp a Butterfly and its tendency to flow in and out of Jazz influence, Brianna believes the youth in her generation need an education in how today’s music has its roots in the jazz tradition. Brianna wants to be that teacher to educate the world in that almost inexplicable, yet so universal quality in music that not only pulls at the heart strings but also enlightens the conscious mind. Become a fan of Brianna Brown on Instagram @simply.brianna.elise or www.briannaelisebrown.com .