#Tryityoumightlikeit with Deborah Dorman is a platform for a generation of approximately 80 million baby boomers to speak out and share their wisdom and leave nothing left unsaid for the future generations to come.
I would like to introduce one of the most beautiful and talented opera sopranos to ever grace the operatic stage. When I heard her perform for the first time, I knew I had to make her acquaintance.
Her journey as a musical artist which began when she started singing at her grandparents’ Baptist church at the age of five is filled with twists and turns and ups and downs of any great artist. Her accomplishments are many and varied, from winning the Metropolitan National Council Auditions in 1997 and making her debut in the title role of Aida there in 2004, she has performed on many of the greatest stages of the world. I could go on and on, but then we’d never get to the interview part of the story. So without further ado, I’m so thrilled to share with you the wisdom and the insights of Ms. Angela Brown!
A special thank you to Hotel Carmichael for the use of their space for the photoshoot.
Deborah Dorman: You are an inspiration to so many of us, where does your inspiration come from?
Angela Brown: My inspiration comes from my parents, Freddie Mae Brown and Walter Clyde Brown. If it was not for them, I would not be who I am today. They allowed me to explore who I was as an individual. They never said that “I couldn’t.” If it was something I wanted to try, they said, “Go for it.” They gave me the wings to fly because they were the literal wind beneath them.
DD: In your musical career, was there ever a time that you fell off your ladder of success? If so, who was there to help you pick up the pieces?
AB: There have been lulls in the career but I haven’t seen anything like a “fall off.” That’s negative. There have been quiet or reflective moments, but no one stays on “10” all the time. Even eagles land and rest for minute. I have always had my family and my team around me to help me redirect or move forward.
DD: You have performed all over the world, what performance or project was the most memorable and why?
AB: My most memorable and, perhaps, enjoyable performance run was with Capetown Opera in South Africa. I sang Aida, an African love story about two warring African nations, singing with authentic Africans in Africa. Baby, it was a heady time. You couldn’t dream of something so perfect. I felt like I was home. And, I was.
DD: What is the one thing you wish your 25 year-old self knew before embarking on your career personally and or professionally?
AB: That I was enough and I didn’t have to be anyone but me. I wish I had known that a little sooner.
DD: If you had the opportunity to start all over again, what would you do differently?
AB: Nothing. Everything I have done was to bring me to who I am today. It was a learning experience.
DD: Describe a life changing moment.
AB: It’s been said that you truly don’t grow up until your parents are gone because you always have something to fall back on. So, when they both passed in 2008 – my father in January and my mother in October – I knew they felt comfortable to go because they had given me all they had to offer and that my brother and I would be fine. They had given me God and their love. And, that’s all I needed to continue on without them being here.
DD: You’ve accomplished and achieved things others only dream of, are there any career or personal dreams that you’ve yet to accomplish?
AB: Why, yes! I would love to have a fashion line that I can create but not manufacture. I would love to have a line of caftans named after me. I’d love to host a talk show or star in a movie.
DD: Five words that best describe yourself?
AB: Fabulous, fierce, fun, fantastic, and fluffy! Ha!
DD: Who are your top three favorite performing artists?
AB: I have so many, but the three that come to the top of my mind first are: Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Earth, Wind, and Fire.
DD: If you could have a cocktail with anyone to talk about your life and theirs, who would that be?
AB: I’d love to talk to my mama again.
DD: Opera is just one outlet for your creativity; What other projects have you been working on?
AB: My podcast, Melanated Moments in Classical Music, that won Best Black Music Podcast for 2020. My accessory line, Freddie Mae’s Daughter. I’ve been teaching and vocal coaching. And, working on my nonprofit foundation, Morning Brown, Inc., that brings culture to cultural deserts. Recording my show Opera…from a Sistah’s Point of View with Cincinnati Opera and Opera Birmingham. Also recording with Indianapolis Symphonic Choir for their Festival of Carols and WTHR for the Circle of Lights. I’m busy!
DD: Indianapolis is so proud of you. What is your proudest moment here in your hometown?
AB: Hosting Yuletide Celebration with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the many times I’ve had to opportunity sing with the Indianapolis Opera, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Indianapolis Children’s Choir, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, and to sing for the Colts, the Pacers, the Indy Eleven, and the Indy 500! It’s wonderful to be able to perform at such a high level on these prestigious platforms in my own hometown. It truly shows that there is more than corn in Indiana. There is culture, too!
DD: It’s been a tough year for everyone on so many different levels, how have you maintained your optimism and what advice do you have for others who are struggling to stay positive in the midst of everything going on?
AB: It has been a hard year and it has been a struggle. I have always chosen to look on the brighter side of things. I, first of all, give thanks and gratitude to God for everything I do have. Instead of bemoaning the jobs I have lost because of COVID, the revenue, my “freedom” to do as I please, I’d rather think of my community and the things I can do to help my community. Whether it be me wearing a mask, volunteering, or giving a smile or kind word, every little bit helps. I’m still here and God knows I’m here so He is going to take care of me. I choose to be happy. Nothing on the outside is going to make me happy. It’s not even on the inside of me. Happiness is me.
DD: What are three essential characteristics in being a world class performing artist?
AB: Perseverance, confidence, talent.
DD: I just had the opportunity to visit the African American Art Museum In Washington D.C., I could not hold back my tears during my stay, yet I too was beaming from ear to ear with pride as the history of slavery, civil rights movement and all our heroic civil rights leaders, the Black Panthers, the Black Lives Matter, were on display throughout the halls of this masterpiece of a museum. Who is your most respected and beloved civil rights leader?
AB: Martin Luther King, Jr.
DD: We now have a Black female Vice-President elect for the first time in the history of his country. What kind of impact do you hope Kamala will have on this country during her time in this role?
AB:That she will help to bring back leadership with integrity, sanity, compassion, true power, and pride.
On a final note, as a young Indianapolis native, I was brought up in a world of music. My Grandmother was the founder of the Indianapolis Symphony and a benefactor to the Aspen School of Music and hosted all the musicians in her home when they performed at the Symphony. My father brought all the rock and roll groups of the 6o’s here to musical venues and raised millions to keep the Indianapolis Symphony alive. My brilliant and late cousin has the School of Rock and Roll named in his honor at Indiana University thanks to his family’s musical heritage. His daughter, who did not know her father, has learned about him as she has reinvented his legacy through the Resynator which he invented as a young man. She is currently documenting the life of Tom Petty.
My sisters and I would sing and dance to Motown and American Bandstand every day after school, and my mother always played classical and Broadway show tune records. We know the words to all the songs to this day. As a 20-year old, my grandmother took me to the Indianapolis Symphony, and I witnessed her weeping as a young violinist took the stage for the first time.
I am a student of the history of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and one of her biggest fans. She was not only a champion of civil and women’s rights, but an avid lover of the Opera. One of her greatest wishes was to be an opera singer like you Angela. Thank you for this great opportunity and making my dream a reality. You, Kamala, and RBG have reached the highest note of life.