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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Rachel Brown Leaps From Fear To Fame
Thursday, December 18, 2014

The music of NYC singer-songwriter Rachel Brown is something you almost didn’t get the chance to hear. “It’s amazing that I ever even came out and said I wanted to do music,” she says, “because it was something I was very private about for a long time.”

Brown continued, “If people really knew the level to which my shyness stands in the way of things they would be shocked that I ever get on the microphone to begin with.”

Conquering that shyness was a goal Brown knew she had to achieve, and she tackled the issue in two stages.

“The first step,” she explains, “was just knowing that this is what I wanted to do, and there was no other way to do it. I started writing songs, and I fell in love with that, and I love to sing them, and share them, and obviously that can only happen if you actually do those things, so when that finally became a reality I was like you know what, I’m gonna do this, and I started going to open mics, and that kind of thing.”

Although she describes her first open mic experience in terms more suited for a review of a slasher film, saying, “I was terrified. I cried before. It was horrifying,” once performing became a little less daunting, she says, “The second part was just doing it constantly.”

Brown notes, “I got very lucky that after a certain point I was able to perform all the time, multiple times a week, and it’s just that frequency that really got me more comfortable, and really nothing else. I find that even if I stop performing for a while, that first show ends up being much more nerve wracking as opposed to when I’m out on the road for a while, or playing regularly at home.”

Now Brown is known to perform multiple sets in one night, even having an evening at The Darby (which has since become Up and Down) that began at 5:30pm and didn’t end until 1am.

Those who’ve been in attendance at one of her shows have heard firsthand the development of Brown’s worldly sound. It’s a sound many would assume comes from her Ethiopian, Bermudian, and Southern roots, but she places much of the credit to being born and raised in NYC.

“I think growing up in New York is a big part of how I ended up playing the music that I play now,” she explains, “and then having a multicultural background is probably what primed me for being so open to different sounds.”

A self-taught musician, Brown attended Harvard, where she studied film. Ironically, Berklee College of Music is in the same city, and although Brown feels she might have learned a few things a little faster with instruction, she says, “I’m glad that I did it on my own time, because I never really got burned out by it. It never really felt like work.”

Originally starting out on the guitar, a few years after receiving a ukulele as a gift, Brown began to teach herself the chords for the songs she wanted to write on that instrument, as well. The addition of the ukulele to her repertoire yielded immediate, and noticeable, results.

“I’ve always loved anything with an island sound, or anything that’s island related,” she says, “(it’s) probably, in part, (from) having Bermudian roots, having that connection, but I also think most people would probably say they feel good when they hear things that are island-ish. It’s been evidenced by the way people react when I pull out the ukulele. Everybody seems really happy when I play that.”

In 2012 Brown made people happy with her debut EP, Building Castles, and she’s continuing her musical evolution with her new single, “Me & You.” She says of her artistic growth between releases, “When I recorded Building Castles the band that I played with live was about half the size. I had percussion, but I didn’t have a drummer. Now I have a drummer, I have horns, I have all these things, so there’s this energy in it now that didn’t exist at the time of Building Castles. It’s still me, it’s just amped up.”

The amped up Brown completed her second EP over the summer, with an early 2015 release date in her sights.

With new music on the way, expect plenty of performances, as well, which, ironically, and triumphantly, has become a trademark of the formerly shy artist who was once terrified to hit the stage.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 1:00 PM  
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