Artist Spotlight: Aaron Parnell Brown

Nov. 30, 2018

Aaron Parnell Brown is one of the smoothest singer songwriters you’ve heard in a long time. His original work carries the emotional weight you might expect to hear in a blues song of the past, a talent many artists can only hope to achieve. His voice tells a story of love, loss and all the emotions in between. His vulnerability is daring yet relatable. Just as quickly as Brown reels the listener with emotion, the strum of his guitar carries the rhythm of roots blues that feels so authentic it’s a wonder he is singing his original work. Each song has its own journey, and we’re more than happy to travel with him. His sound is unique to the point where Brown could be categorized into his own lane –which is exactly how he likes it.

Brown says, “I want to create my own lane and I want people to jump in the lane with me. I don’t want to be lumped into just one category.” Brown continues, “Part of the fun is figuring out what I want my lane to look like. I just want to take that and bring people into it.” Brown practices having a healthy mix of musical influences to keep his sound unique and fresh. His musical library includes Nina Simone, Taj Mahal , Stevie Wonder, Prince, Frank Sinatra, Wilco, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.  Brown says, “I am just a big fan of music overall, and it’s a distillation of all the things that I’ve picked up which leads me to who I am as an artist”. Brown continues, “I live in blues, roots and soul. When you go to the supermarket, you put a lot of things in your cart. All of that stuff is going home with you, but it all came from different places. The cart going home with me is blues, roots and soul.”

Brown can find the influence in any style of music, each awarding him a “phase” of understanding a new genre. His multifaceted taste affords him a musical range that can’t be emulated. Brown says, “I listen to songs for different things. Nina Simone is amazingly talented and technical; she knows a lot about music but she also has a tremendous amount of personality into it.” Brown continues, “A band like Wilco might have more go into the musical composition than in the performance. I can’t ever pick just one.” While other artists have undoubtedly shaped Brown’s artistry, he credits Philadelphia as a strict coach in his musical upbringing. Brown says, “The biggest way Philly has shaped me as an artist is that you have to do it for yourself. Nobody is going to come and give you a million dollar contract.” Brown continues, “You have to make the connections, find out who you are and what you’re doing, then make it happen. The city molds the artist in a lot of ways.”

Since releasing Sing in 2012, Brown has won a few awards, including the Tri-State Indie’s Best Soul/R&B Artist of the Year. He’s even had the chance to perform on Mountain Stage, National Public Radio’s long-running radio program. Brown says, “It was in this beautiful little venue in Charlestown, West Virginia and it’s a historic and famous show. I got to meet everybody backstage, which was an awesome experience. Nels Cline, the guitar player for Wilco, was playing there, too.  It was awesome to get to meet him. It was just an amazing experience.”

Brown considers himself lucky to be counted amongst great R&B artists, but is working not to be labeled into one category. Like his musical taste, Brown wants to blaze his own trail that reflects his multifaceted work.  As Brown was creating his sound as an artist, he had great feedback from family, friends and a support system of Philly artists. Brown says, “Even the people who haven’t been so nice have been really helpful. Sometimes people say ’you’re not this’ or ‘you should only be a soul guy’. I love soul, but it isn’t all that I want to be. Sometimes I might use a folk chord, and someone might say they don’t like it and I’ll say, ‘But these (folk) chords are better!’. It’s helped me figure out where I’m supposed to be and it’s helped me to figure out that I have to make my own lane for myself.”

Prior to releasing Sing in 2012, Brown was a part of The York Street Hustle, where he met Alison and Imani, incredibly talented vocalists who often work alongside Brown as a part of his band The Spell, performing alongside Brown for two years. Together, Brown and The Spell  are working to create exciting original work to come. Brown’s next ambition? Winning a Grammy. Brown says, “I want my audience to feel something and to be relaxed.” Brown continues, “Sometimes it gets emotional but it’s really about us having fun. I want it to be inclusive, so that people hear the sound and think, I dig this! When I play music, all the stress just melts away.”

If you would like to book Aaron Parnell Brown for your next event or to discuss additional entertainment and live music bookings in Philadelphia, contact our Talent Buyer, Sean Timmons at 215-240-8552.

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