Alison Brown

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Alison Brown
Background information
Born (1962-08-07) August 7, 1962 (age 53)
Origin Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Genres Bluegrass, Americana, jazz
Occupation(s) Songwriter, musician, Record Producer
Instruments banjo, guitar
Years active 1978–present
Labels Vanguard Records, Compass Records
Associated acts Alison Krauss, Union Station, Béla Fleck, David Grisman, Stuart Duncan, Sam Bush, Northern Lights

Alison Brown (born August 7, 1962) is an American banjo player and guitarist known for a soft nylon-string banjo sound. She has won and has been nominated on several Grammy awards and is often compared to another banjo prodigy, Béla Fleck, for her unique style of playing. In her music, she blends jazz, bluegrass, rock, blues as well as other styles of music.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Brown learned to play guitar at eight and banjo at ten. When she was twelve, she met fiddler Stuart Duncan. In the summer of 1978, Brown traveled across the country with Duncan and his father, playing at festivals and contests. She won first place at the Canadian National Banjo Championship, which helped her land a one-night gig at the Grand Ole Opry. [3]

Harvard University and Northern Lights[edit]

In 1980, Brown went to Harvard university, where she studied history and literature. After graduating from Harvard, she earned an MBA from UCLA.

In 1982, while still at Harvard, Brown helped to reunite the Northern Lights band after a 5-year hiatus, she became a band member until 1984, when she moved back to California. Brown worked for two years with Smith Barney in San Francisco, and then took a break to pursue her music interests.[4]

Union Station and other collaborations[edit]

In 1987, Alison Krauss asked Brown to join her band, Union Station. Brown spent three years with Krauss. In 1990, she moved to Tennessee, and was named International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the Year in 1991. The 1990 album I've Got That Old Feeling, which Brown played banjo on, won a Grammy award.[5]

In 1992, Brown became the band leader for Michelle Shocked. This experience led Brown to merge bluegrass with jazz and folk idioms, in a manner similar to those of Béla Fleck and David Grisman.

Compass records[edit]

In the early 1990s, Brown and her husband, bass player Garry West, started their own record label, Small World Music. This company eventually led to the launch of Compass Records in 1995, an internationally recognized label, which has such artists as Victor Wooten, Colin Hay, Catie Curtis, Lúnasa, Martin Hayes, Jeff Coffin, Russ Barenberg, Darol Anger and others.

Grammy awards[edit]

In 2001, in collaboration with Béla Fleck, Brown won the Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance for her song "Leaving Cottondale" from her album Fair Weather. She participated in Alison Krauss's Grammy-winning album I've Got That Old Feeling, and received a Grammy nomination for her own recording, Simple Pleasures (1990).

Alison Brown and Quartet today[edit]

Stolen Moments (2005), in Brown's estimation, is her most musically successful record to date. "For the first time, I feel like I've created a true hybrid sound that suggests its influences – bluegrass, jazz, celtic music – but when taken as a whole isn't any one of these things." – Brown's words about the album on the group's official webpage. In 2007, Brown was honored as one of Irish America magazine's Stars of the South. Her last album, The Company You Keep (2009) follows this trend of mixing different acoustic genres resulting in fresh-sounding new hybrids.

Brown continues touring with her quartet internationally. As a famous Harvard University alumna, she was invited to play at the inauguration of Harvard's new president, Drew Faust.[1] [6]

Alison Brown > The Song of the Banjo[edit]

Alison latest album is The Song Of The Banjo, Compass 2015) with Indigo Girls, Colin Hay, Keb' Mo', Jake Shimabukuro, Rob Ickes and Steve Gadd.

With The Song of the Banjo, her first album since 2009, GRAMMY-winning musician/composer/producer/entrepreneur Alison Brown plants another flag in her journey of musical exploration. Acclaimed as one of today’s finest progressive 5-string banjo players, the 2015 IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award/2014 United States Artist Fellowship recipient and Compass Records co-founder mixes seven masterful originals with six surprising covers of pop and rock classics from the ‘70s and ‘80s (“Dance With Me,” “Feels So Good,” “Time After Time,” “Carolina in the Pines” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” and the Deluxe Edition CD bonus track, “What’s Going On”), boldly going where no banjo album has gone before.

For their mission, Brown and her co-producer, husband, label co-founder and bassist Garry West have assembled an equally unconventional all-star ensemble, including Indigo GirlsAmy Ray and Emily Saliers, Keb’ Mo’, Colin Hay, uke master Jake Shimabukuro, legendary studio drummer Steve Gadd, fiddler Stuart Duncan, Irish phenom guitarist John Doyle, bassist Todd Phillips, guitarist Jim Oblon, Dobro player Rob Ickes and pianists Will Barrow, Joe Davidian and John Jarvis.


On Vanguard Records:

On Compass Records:


External links[edit]