Cleo Brown

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Cleopatra Brown (December 8, 1907[1] or 1909 – April 15, 1995),[2] known as Cleo Brown, C. Patra Brown or Cleo Patra Brown, was an American blues and jazz vocalist and pianist.


Brown was born in Meridian, Mississippi, and sang in church as a child. In 1919 her family moved to Chicago and she began studying piano. In the early 1920s she began taking gigs in clubs and broadcast on radio. From the 1930s to the 1950s she toured the United States regularly, recording for Decca Records (among other labels) along the way and recording many humorous, ironic titles such as "Breakin' in a New Pair of Shoes", "Mama Don't Want No Peas and Rice and Coconut Oil", "When Hollywood Goes Black and Tan", and "The Stuff Is Here and it's Mellow". Her stride piano playing was often compared to Fats Waller.[3]

In the 1940s, Brown began to shy away from singing bawdy blues songs because of her deepening religious beliefs and, in 1953, she retired and became a nurse. The song "Sweet Cleo Brown" was recorded by Dave Brubeck in tribute to her. She was rediscovered, living in Colorado, in the 1980s after being tracked down by Marian McPartland. She returned to record again, and performed on National Public Radio.[3]

She died on April 15, 1995 in Denver, Colorado.[2]


Some of Brown's earliest recordings have been reissued by Document Records.


  1. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 113. ISBN 978-0313344237. 
  2. ^ a b Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 1994 - 1995". Retrieved 2014-07-12. 
  3. ^ a b Chadbourne, Eugene. "Cleo Brown". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-12-20.