Angela Brown: The Making of a Mentor
Melanated Moments in Classical Music Podcast, Season One, Episode Six
Words by Joshua Thompson
It comes as no surprise that one of the most popular episodes of Season One was Episode Six titled, Opera… from a Sistah’s Point of View, featuring our distinguished co-host, Angela Brown. What strikes me in this episode (and in real life) is Angela’s effortless ability to balance a doggedly high standard with a gregarious affability and wisdom that can only be achieved by an individual who is forward thinking while remaining firmly rooted as a reflection of the present. In this regard, Angela Brown is one of many influential artists to have come from the Crispus Attucks school of thought that placed community over competition and instilled critical tenants such as artistic excellence and the use of one’s platform to extend the longevity of the art form for the benefit of subsequent artists and patrons alike.
It was in this multifaceted role in 2015 that I first met Angela Brown in preparation for a show honoring the legendary Hampton Sisters. The task was simple enough: accompany the world-renowned soprano on the timeless standard, Summertime. What was light on technical toil quickly became heave with anxious weight as I obsessed over taking full advantage of a pivotal opportunity. My minor role in the entire affair went off well enough but it was the starring role of Angela Brown leading up to the performance that made a lasting and transformative impression on me. Far more fascinating than the stereotypical diva whose talent barely outpaces her insufferable personality; Angela takes a more regal, majestic and cultivating approach to the role.
Perhaps unbeknownst to her, in person, performance and presence, Angela Brown is the definition of a musical mentor. It is not often that we are granted an individual who finds equal utility in mastering the art form while mastering the machine that keeps it operational and accessible. She continues to demonstrate a level of artistic foresight that keeps her in demand on stages all over the world in addition to her impact in the media world of podcasting, modeling, and film; and as founder of the nonprofit organization Morning Brown, Inc. It is her penchant for brutal yet humble honesty about the industry that I find endearing, sincere, and inspiring. These are the qualities of a mentor who journeys alongside you as each forges a path unique to them yet accessible to those coming after. Of course, pose these issues to Angela herself and she will casually explain “I’m too stupid to stop.” Well, if excellence in person, performance, and presence is a shared goal amongst our listeners; may we all be so stupid.
Listen to Opera… from a Sistah’s Point of View from Season One of Melanated Moments in Classical Music on your favorite podcast platform.