Each and every day I thank the supreme being for allowing me one more chance to add to my personal legacy. Amazingly we are reminded how precious life can be, not to mention that the sands of our individual hour glasses are shifting with each breaking dawn. I've previously stated that this forum has been designed to accentuate the postive but doesn't strive to be overtly politically correct. I am always on the lookout for those individuals that are demonstrating a committment to excellence from their own unique prospective and demanding their place at the table. Each week we will turn on the "Lavender Light Showcase" to highlight these persons and their efforts.
Lavender Light Showcase
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ms. Tona Brown...
About a month ago, I was reading an interesting article in The Advocate,( April 24,07) about a musician who had overcome the odds and was openly pursuing a career in the arts as a transperson. I was so inspired by her courage and tenacity, I knew I had to interview her for myself as a Lavender Light Showcase presentee. After submitting some base questions, Ms. Brown responded with delightful candor and as a beacon of pride.
Born in Virgina, Brown recalls her early years as a protogee, despite finances that were often challenging, somehow the family perserved allowing her to pursue her craft. Eventually learning violin and being accepted by the Governor's school for the Arts in High School where she came out as a gay male, she later entered college at Shenadoah Conservatory continuing to deal with her sexuality,but began taking voice clasess in search of her perfect pitch . At 27, she is a rising musical star in the toney world of opera and classical music with big plans on the horizon.
BP: What are your ultimate career goals?
Brown: To perform internationally in both solo and chamber music engagements. I wold also like to be a role model for other trans performers and people of color, helping others with my success...I would enjoy to take time off of performing every season to reach talented students.
BP: Who are your musical hereos?
Brown: Shirely Verret who I had the priviledge to met and interview for the St.Louis American last year. Others include but are not limited to Leontyne Price, Grace Brumbry, Issac Stern, Anne Sophie Mutter, Midori, and my mentor Darryl Huskey.
BP: How has music changed youf life?
Brown: Music has taken me around the world and exposed me to people of all walks of life. Music is the one medium that is universal and has no limitations or prejudice. I honestly don't know where I would've been without my love and work in music.
BP: Do you consider yourself a role model?
Brown: I consider myself a role mode for all people. I think that one can do anything they put their mind to. The only limits we have on our lives are ones we put on them. The skies are truly the limit and that is how I live my live and will continue to do so.
BP: What are your views on GLBTQ Pride?
Brown: Pride is something that I feel is within and doesn't have to be shown in a festival or march. You have to have pride within yourself and in order to survive in today's society.
BP: What would be your dream concert?
Brown: My dream concert would be a concert for thousands of people with my friends and fellow musicians featuring both vocal, instrumental, and chamber works. There are many musicians out there that never make it to mainstream that should be given a chance to be discovered and shine.
BP: How do you contribute to the community?
Brown: I started the Hampton Roads community orchestra, doing tours of elderly facilities, organizational benefits and free concerts allowing local performers opportunites to participate.
According to Ms. Brown, she's grateful for her relationship with her family, especially her mother, Sharon Brooks who has been supportive during her evolution as a transgendered person, meanwhile facing many racial obstacles that have been apart of her journey. Last year Tona toured with the Tranny Road Show and has plans for a CD of African American songs and spirituals.
We would like to thank Ms. Brown for her particpation and salute her as she realizes that "aint no mountain high enough, to keep you away from true success." She concluded with this note as follows:
Thank you very much for you interest in my story and spreading the word about my music and career to others. My information has been sent to a number of national publications so you might be reading about me in the near future or viewing me on one of these television programs.
Sincerely, Tona Brown