Grammy winning guitarist, singer and producer Norman Brown is experiencing a spiritual awakening that has influenced his 11th recording as a leader, “The Highest Act of Love.”
The Shanachie Entertainment release consists of 11 soul-stirring and thought-provoking tracks of mostly originals, songs which reflect his understanding of the ancient Egyptian wisdom taught to him by his Sage, Ra Un Nefer Amen, the high priest and founder of the Ausar/Auset Society.
Among the highlights is the opening ballad “Inside The Garden of Peace and Love” with longtime collaborator and fellow guitarist Paul Brown; and a reworking of the 1970s hit “Free” with its original vocalist — R&B legend Deniece Williams.
“This record took me back to the core of what I am, who I am, why I am, and how I am, and it tied that all together and brought me into the now and what I’m going towards in the future,” Brown told Tasty Clips. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
A graduate of the Musician’s Institute in North Hollywood, where Brown would go on to teach, the guitarist landed his first deal on Motown subsidiary Mojazz in 1992 where he recorded the albums “Just Between Us,” the gold-selling “After The Storm” and “Better Days.”
Yet, you don’t hear of him being associated with any 60th anniversary celebrations of the label like those recently staged by the Grammys.
“[Motown’s Mojazz is] responsible for me being here now,” said the Kansas City native who currently resides in Atlanta. “None of the other labels would give me a shot. They said I sounded too much like George Benson and all that kind of stuff.”
“Nobody cares about that now,” he added. “They want to see [Jennifer Lopez]. Nothing against her, but it’s supposed to be about legacy. And legacy goes all the way back to our ancestors. Unfortunately, my people don’t know their ancestors that well. Therefore, we don’t know ourselves. It’s a brainwashing that’s going on. People’s minds are being conditioned. People are taught what to think and now how to think.”
Despite a string of successful albums including 1999’s “Celebration,” 2002’s Grammy-winning “Just Chillin’,” and his BWB recordings with saxophonist Kirk Whalum and trumpeter Rick Braun, he feels that jazz isn’t getting the respect it deserves.
“This is intelligent music,” Brown said. “It’s a challenge to write a song where somebody understands the melody and there’s no words. That is so difficult. With the words, people can get that because we talk to each other. So, we understand that … but for me to write a song that says something to the spirit and there’s no words there, that’s a real feat to achieve with an instrumental. We’re doing that.”
This weekend will mark the launch of NormanBrown.TV, a subscription service that will provide fans with personalized programming from the renaissance man including concerts, guitar lessons, a book club, workout sessions, meditation and spiritual talk.
CLIPPETTES: Ryan Coogler is co-producing a film about Black Panther Party member Fred Hampton titled “Jesus Was My Homeboy” to reunite “Get Out” co-stars Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield …
Tiffany Haddish’s #SheReady Tour stops at the Microsoft Theater Feb. 22 following news that she’s in the studio laying tracks for a musical album …
TV One has announced that production is underway in Atlanta for “The Bobby DeBarge Story,” about the late Switch lead singer and eldest sibling of the famed musical family. Roshon Fegan (“Greenleaf”) will star with Big Boi portraying Motown mogul Berry Gordy in the film slated to premiere in June …
Snarky Puppy teams with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Feb. 23 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall; as Christian Scott plays the Roxy; and Zo! + Carmen Rodgers present “Piano & A Microphone” Upstairs at Vitello’s …
Director Deborah Riley Draper (“Olympic Pride, American Prejudice” “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution”) is tackling next an adaptation of April Sinclair’s novel “Coffee Will Make You Black” to star Gabrielle Union and Octavia Spencer …
Legendary vibraphone player/singer Roy Ayers is featured as part of Jazz Is Dead’s Black History Month program at the Lodge Room Feb. 28; while rapper Meek Mill hits the Hollywood Palladium.
ON THE REAL: Jeffrey Osborne was grief stricken that he could not attend the homegoing services of his “really really close friend” James Ingram, due to having to perform before a sold-out Miller Theater audience in Augusta last weekend.
So, he showed his love by delivering an impromptu heartfelt rendition of Ingram’s hit “Just Once” that moved the crowd to join in. It was so beautiful; Tasty Clips hopes he can be convinced to add the classic ballad to his set list and record it one day.
TC ON TV: Feb. 22 – “Chef’s Table” (Netflix): Mashama Bailey of Savannah’s award-winning restaurant The Grey is featured this sixth season. “Firebrand” (Netflix): Priyanka Chopra has produced the network’s first original Marathi film. “The View” (ABC): Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe. “American Masters” (PBS): “Charley Pride: I’m Just Me” traces Pride’s improbable journey from his humble beginnings as a sharecropper’s son on a cotton farm in segregated Sledge, Mississippi to his career as a Negro League baseball player and his meteoric rise as a trailblazing country music superstar. “2 Dope Queens” (HBO): Janet Mock, Lizzo
Feb. 23 – “2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards” (IFC): Taraji P. Henson and Tessa Thompson are confirmed as presenters. “O.G.” (HBO): Jeffrey Wright portrays a former prominent prison gang leader in the final weeks of his 24-year sentence who takes a new arrival under his wing. “Saturday Night Live” (NBC): Anderson .Paak is the musical guest.
Feb. 24 – “91st Annual Academy Awards” (ABC): The show may be without a host but presenters, including Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Samuel L. Jackson, Keegan-Michael Key, Jason Momoa, Michael B. Jordan, Tyler Perry, Pharrell Williams and Whoopi Goldberg, are expected to pick up the slack. Oh, and Jennifer Hudson, Lady Gaga, Bette Midler and Queen are performing while they wait on Kendrick Lamar to confirm. “Autopsy: The Last Hours Of …” (REELZ): Donna Summer
Feb. 25 – “The Green Book: Guide To Freedom” (Smithsonian): Tells the origins of the publication that helped blacks navigate safe passage across America from the 1930s well into the 1960s. “The Enemy Within” (NBC): Morris Chestnut stars as an FBI agent who teams with a brilliant former CIA operative turned traitor to catch a spy in this thrilling new series.
Feb. 26 – “”black-ish” (ABC): Octavia Spencer guest stars in this special Black History Month episode directed by Tracee Ellis Ross.
Feb. 27 – “Drop The Mic” (TNT): Mel B vs. La La Anthony
TASTY QUIP: “Why would we (as a people) agree to a temporary boycott of Gucci for merely three months if what was done caused so much strife? Why wouldn’t we agree to a permanent boycott of Gucci as well as all other merchandise that fall under the Kering ownership, such as YSL, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and more? I’ll tell you why, it’s because in this day, celebrities and failing artists pick and choose the hottest trending topic as a means of seeking attention and using fake advocacy as their platform when their ‘talent’ no longer benefits them.” – FLOYD MAYWEATHER via Instagram
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to email@example.com or via Twitter @tastyclips.