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Genuine sound: A girl with a heart behind her music

Posted: January 18, 2010 4:25 p.m.
Updated: January 20, 2010 4:20 p.m.

Rochella Brown has toured as a backup singer with such artists as Robin Thicke (right).

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Rochella Brown: Remember the name. It belongs to one very gifted young woman whose voice will soon be recognizable to jazz and R&B listeners.

We met at Mason Park in the San Fernando Valley; walking up to the bench was a beautiful girl with chocolate skin wearing a white summer dress, but the brightest thing I noticed was her smile. Rochella slid onto the park bench opposite of me, and her authenticity shone through her eyes as she asked, "How are you?"

Within minutes it was as if I had known her my whole life, and as I got to know her, it became more and more apparent that this young woman had untapped talent just waiting to be discovered.

Rochella had the rare blessing of knowing exactly what she wanted to do with her life at age four. "I remember my mom telling me that before I could talk I was actually humming nursery rhymes," she said with a quirky smile.

"As a little girl, I always liked to entertain people and make them smile, and so I can say it was probably around five that I knew what I wanted to do!"

This cultured and beautiful young woman is not only the daughter of the world famous jazz and R&B musician Norman Brown (who performed last year at the Palmdale Wine and Jazz Festival and the last two Playboy Jazz Festivals at the Hollywood Bowl), but also has toured as a backup singer with artists such as Robin Thicke, Peabo Bryson, Patti Austin, Bony James, Paul Taylor, Eric Darius, Brenda Russel, Anita Baker, Chante Moore and Alex Bugnon.

Instead of relying on her father's well-known and respected name in the business to gain a foothold, Rochella -- a student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston -- has focused on establishing her own identity and career.

"I worked really hard, took the knowledge and the advice my dad gave me, and ran with it," she said. "I started making my own music, and learning the different music software that's out there to be able to compose, getting with fellow musicians...working with them, and networking."

Her hard work has not gone unrewarded; Rochella solo wrote and produced "Screw You," a song which was picked up by the 2010 "Suicide Dolls" movie, featuring actress Christy Carson Romano.

As modest as she is talented, Rochella has a heart behind her music. Her focus, she said, is on the "lack of value and ethics (in the business). Not to say I'm perfect because I've made my fair share of mistakes just like everybody else, but there is a sense of integrity that I think people need to learn about."

Being genuine is something that comes naturally to Rochella; it comes through the pores of her skin and soft-spoken voice.
"One of the things I really want to convey, especially to girls and women, as cliché as it may be, is the respect you have to have for yourself," Rochella said. "That's something I'm still learning about. It's hard, really, really hard, but something I want to share with the world."

It is obvious this subject means a lot to her, and it directs her music as well. Her lyrics and songs are written from past experiences and present-day life, recounting lessons which she learned and wants to pass down to her audience.

Rochella's voice combines the strength and vivaciousness of an old-time blues singer with the airiness of a pop vocalist, showing versatility that allows her to explore and experiment with various musical genres.

As far as a solo CD, Rochella is "working on one right now. I have four songs done, so that might start out as a demo first before an album. So I'm working hard... but in terms of having an album out, it won't be for another couple years."

Keep a lookout for this rising star who will soon brighten the musical universe. You definitely do not want to miss what she has to share.

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