Jazz Guitarist…NORMAN BROWN

Norman Brown is a Grammy-winning smooth jazz guitarist and singer from Kansas City, Kansas. Many times he is compared to George Benson and Wes Montgomery.  Interest in his brother’s acoustic guitar around the age of eight was the catalyst that sparked his own interest in the electric guitar.

 

  Brown’s first inspirations came from the music of Jimi Hendrix and Ernie Isley of The Isley Brothers.  Soon he would discover legendary guitarist Wes Montgomery, who happened to be one of his father’s favorite artists.  Brown’s music evolved to a different level after his discovery of Montgomery!

Listeners have been graced with the music of Norman Brown for over twenty years!  In my opinion, he is one of the all time best guitarists.  Just Between Us in 1992 was Brown’s debut album.  This was followed in 1994 with his successful gold album After the Storm which remained on the charts for two years. It received a Soul Train Award for Jazz Album of the Year and also received Jazz Album of the Year on the Gavin Awards! In 2002, he released his Grammy award winning Just Chillin’ which won Pop Instrumental Album of the Year! Also in 2002, Groovin’ was released. This was a mixture of songs introduced by his smooth jazz group called BWB. The group consisted of Brown, saxophonist Kirk Whalum and trumpeter Rick Braun. He then returned to his solo work in 2004 with West Coast Coolin’, and two years later Stay With Me.  His 24/7 collaboration in 2012 with Gerald Albright garnered him his second Grammy nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category in 2013.  Brown rejoined BWB for a tribute album to Michael Jackson titled Human Nature also in 2013.  He continued to split his time between his solo work and BWB releasing his third album of originals in 2016 simply titled BWB

I met Brown in 2015 at Hank Stewart’s Hot Chocolate Affair and again in 2016 at The 15th Annual White Linen Affair, another Hank Stewart event.  This year’s musical lineup for the 16th Annual White Linen Affair features Norman Brown again! Also this year he will be presenting his first Christmas tour and will be traveling to many cities during the holidays.  He conveys that Bobby Caldwell and Marion Meadows will be joining him in spreading peace, unity, joy and spiritual power.  Brown says, “It’s going to be a fantastic show! When we come to your city, come out and hang with us and let’s have joy together!”

This year Norman Brown released his first solo album in six years for Shanachie Records!  This album has something for everyone; this one seems to be his baby! Brown eagerly states, “This is a very spiritual record, I call it Let It Go.  The concept is to sacrifice the lesser for the greater. We tend to sacrifice the greater for the lesser.  All the little things in life that we sweat and call problems, challenges and obstacles, we must learn to let them go because there is GREATER.”  Brown says that every song title brings a message, so let’s explore each song as he expounds: 1) Lessons Of The Spirit - Brown says, “This is a quiet piece. It's short and the purpose is to get the mind in the state of trance, meditation, being calm and at peace. This is our nature.  2) It Keeps Coming Back - “If we don't learn our spiritual lessons, we will have to repeat them again and again.  Our journey is about lessons, and we learn lessons through the scenarios that we live.  3) Let It Go - “Sacrifice the lesser for the greater. Once you do that, then you can say ‘ooh child’…which is the next song.” 3) Ooh Child - “Everything's going to be alright. 4) Conversations - “This song is about those two parts of us that speak to ourselves.  The lyrics say, ‘as I talk to myself, I put my ego on the shelf.  It's time to listen to my spirit.  Talk to me. Speak to me. Teach to me. Empower me. Shower me. Let it flow through my being Spirit power."  He continues, “When we have challenges, we question ourselves should I do this or that…that's the conversation. We have to learn to distinguish between the voices, the bad or the good which is the God in us!”  He says, “I wanted to give what works for me and what I see as true and apply it to my music.”  4) Living Out Your Destiny - “Enjoy the love that life brings.  Feel what it is to really feel, make it right, keep it real…take some time to just chill.”  5) Holding You - “This is a sensual piece for unification between male and female that I sang with Chante Moore.”  6) The North Star - “Featuring Marion Meadows, this is that place where there's peace, where there is no opposition. You live in joy; peace and happiness therefore show love.”  7) Very Woman - “This is a bluesy, gutbucket kind of song.  It's like you're MY woman, you're my very woman. You're the very woman that I need. You're the very woman that I want. You're the only woman that I see. You're the only one that's right for me.” 8) Liberated -“This song is about becoming liberated from the lower parts of the spirit.”  9) Remember Who You Are - “We have to remember who we are and not let this world take us out of our nature.  Our nature is peace. We are supposed to respond to all life challenges, obstacles and problems in a place of peace.  When we do this we get God's wisdom, spiritual power, laws of protection and divine protection. We get all of these great laws and principles working for us. Remember who you are. Don't let this world tell you who you are. I'm not a black man. I'm not even Norman. I don't even know my real name. I'm a spirit. I'm a Divine being. I'm more than human. I walk around in a human body, but that burning fire and energy in me is a spirit.”  10) Man in the Mirror -“Look in the mirror, that's what it's all about.  We're all looking for answers outside and pointing fingers outside when it's all inward. God is inward, heaven is inward, answers are inward, the ability to solve problems is inward, and our basic nature is inward.  I want people to look at the man in the mirror.”  It was fascinating hearing Brown’s take on his songs, and he wanted everyone to know that all of this information and more is on the liner notes in his album!

Beyond the music of Norman Brown, he shared some things from his personal side. Brown is a father of six well-educated children. He has three girls and three boys and states that he is currently in a beautiful relationship.  He says, “I've been through many relationships as many of us have, and I learned so much about life through them. These lessons inspired the concept for my new album Let It Go.

After spending time talking to Norman, we discovered that we shared many of the same spiritual beliefs.  I found him to not only be a very mesmerizing, phenomenal guitarist but also an extremely informative and spiritual man. Brown also has an interest in developing spiritual divinity, studying Egyptian spirituality and Chinese life force.  He is a family man, and he keeps himself balanced by practicing these methods. Brown expounds, “One thing that solves everything is realizing the fact that we are divine beings.  We become the vessel of God on Earth, and then we receive everything!  The key to living life comes down to answering three questions. What is the essential essence of the Supreme Being, why creation and what is my purpose in creation?  When we get the answers to these things, success is all that can happen.  If we develop our spiritual divinity, everything else is perfect.” In the words of Brown…LET IT GO!

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