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YolanDa Brown
YolanDa Brown performing at the Barbican Centre in 2016
Background information
Birth nameYolanda Faye Brown
Born1982/1983 (age 38–39)[1]
Barking, London, UK
Genres
InstrumentsTenor, soprano and alto saxophone, EWI
Years active2007–present
Websitewww.yolandabrown.co.uk Edit this at Wikidata

Yolanda Faye Brown (born 1982/1983) is a British saxophonist, composer and broadcaster.

Early life and education

Born to Jamaican parents (her mother was a headteacher, while her father was an advertising executive) in Barking, Essex, England, YolanDa Brown grew up in Gants Hill in the London Borough of Redbridge.[2][1][3] Her childhood dream was to become a racing car driver.[4][5]

A past student of Bancroft's School and the sixth form at Beal High School, where she became Head Girl,[6] Brown went on to study at the University of Kent, Kent Business School in Canterbury.[4] She also spent a year as an Erasmus student at the University of Oviedo in Asturias, Spain.[7]

Her Master's dissertation was on "Combining SSM (Soft systems methodology) and DESM (Discrete event simulation)". She graduated with a first-class degree. Brown gained a further Masters in Methods of Social Research, followed by four years of PhD study in management science, before taking a hiatus from her thesis on "Multi Methodology" to pursue her music career.[4]

Career

Her sound is a fusion of reggae, jazz and soul. She is the 2008 MOBO "Best Jazz" [8] and UMA winner.

In 2009, Brown became the first musician to not only be nominated in the "Best Jazz" category of the MOBOs in consecutive years, but also the first to win it two years running.[4]

A prolific collaborator, Brown has worked with musicians including Billy Ocean, Jools Holland, Grammy Award-winners Morgan Heritage, Lemar, Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child, reggae legend Bob Marley’s son Julian Marley, Matt Cardle, Shingai Shoniwa of the Noisettes, The Floacist from the duo Floetry, Mica Paris, Omar Lye-Fook and Wretch 32. She has toured with Diana Krall, Errol Brown, Beverley Knight and The Temptations.

Brown is a Yamaha Artist[9] and was appointed the UK's Class Band Ambassador in February 2011. Yamaha Class Band is a whole-class wind band teaching method, which piloted up until July 2012, in a collaboration between Yamaha UK and two of the UK's leading music services.[10]

In February 2012, Brown released her first album April Showers May Flowers. Remaining an independent artist, she kicked off a UK and overseas tour in support of the album with two benchmark concerts at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo accompanied by her full band and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. At the end of the year, it was featured as an album of the year on the UK iTunes "Best Jazz Album of 2012" list.

Brown's sophomore album entitled Love Politics War was released on 16 June 2017. The album features original compositions blending reggae, jazz and soul written and performed in YolanDa’s own style, labelled somewhat tongue in cheek as "Posh Reggae".[11] It was her first album to be made available not only as a CD and download but also on vinyl.

In January 2017, Brown was named as the celebrity ambassador for the Greater London Assembly and ABRSM "Learn Music London” Campaign.[12][13] During 2017 YolanDa toured her new album at home and abroad, as well as performing on a special British Airways flight to New Orleans for Mardi Gras[14] to inaugurate the airline's new service to that city.

In the same year, Brown was also a presenter on several television programmes transmitted as a part of the BBC Proms offerings, including a special Proms tribute to jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, in the centenary year of their births and the Last Night of the Proms from Around the UK. Television exposure continued into 2018 to include appearances on the BBC’s Celebrity Eggheads and Celebrity Mastermind. In November of that year, Brown also co-presented the BBC Young Jazz Musician finals, which was transmitted on BBC Four.[15]

Brown in 2018
Brown in 2018

In January 2018 Brown embarked on a world tour, in celebration of her 10 Year anniversary in music. Her tour covered many new territories, including Australia, Martinique, Barbados, Morocco, Germany and Spain.

Brown's 20 episode BBC series, YolanDa's Band Jam[16] began transmission on CBeebies on 26 January 2019. The show consists of Brown inviting star guests to play along with a live audience of children aged five to seven.[1]

On New Year's Eve 2019, she appeared on the BBC's Jools' Annual Hootenanny, performing "I Put a Spell on You" with Kelly Jones and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" with Rick Astley.[17][18]

Charity

In January 2018, Brown was appointed Chair of Youth Music, a national charity investing in music-making projects for children and young people experiencing challenging circumstances.[19][1] She was the keynote speaker at Music Mark in November 2018[20] Music Mark is the biggest music education conference held annually in the UK.

Since 2017 Brown has been a BBC Music Ambassador. She is also a celebrity ambassador for The Prince's Trust, Children & the Arts, Plan UK, World Child Cancer and London Music Fund.

The YolanDa Brown Music Award in conjunction with the University of East London provides financial support specifically to final year students studying BSc (Hons) Music Technology or BA (Hons) Music Production and Culture at UEL. The award is available to up to four UEL students and provides them with funds toward studio time or music equipment. This was the first project from the YolanDa Brown Foundation.

The Drake YolanDa Award[21] has been created to support emerging artists across the UK on their musical journey. Philanthropist and Entrepreneur James Drake and Saxophonist and Broadcaster YolanDa Brown will award artists who express a commitment to their careers and demonstrate creative excellence and a drive to succeed.

In May 2018 Brown launched The London Saxophone Festival, an annual celebration of the saxophone through concerts, film, workshops and more.Featured artists included Bob Reynolds from Snarky Puppy and Casey Benjamin from the Robert Glasper Experiment [1] The second edition took place in June 2019 and the 2020 edition was postponed as a result of COVID-19.

Broadcast work

Brown continues as a regular guest presenter on BBC Radio 4's programme Loose Ends with Clive Anderson. She also presented a documentary on Williams Syndrome[22] for the station. She has two radio shows currently running on British Airways flights across the world called "Inflight Live Sessions" and "The Gospel Show".

Brown has made several appearances on television at home and abroad including BBC Breakfast (BBC One), The Wright Stuff (Channel 5), Sunday Brunch (Channel 4), Songs of Praise (BBC ONE), Vintage TV Sessions (Vintage TV), Let's Go Club (CBeebies) and Newsnight.

Brown's role as a television presenter in 2017 saw her fronting several television programs transmitted as a part of the BBC Proms offerings that year, including a special Proms tribute to jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, in the centenary year of their births and The Last Night of the Proms from Around the UK. She also presented an episode of Vintage Sessions on Vintage TV.

During 2018 Brown co-presented the 2018 edition of the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year for television, transmitted on BBC 4.[23] In the same year, apart from interviews across the world whilst on tour, she appeared on a number of bespoke and established UK television programs. They included guesting on editions of Celebrity Mastermind, Gareth Malone's All-Star Music Quiz, and an episode of Celebrity Eggheads.

Across television and radio, Brown has interviewed Gregory Porter, Frank Skinner, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Lauren Child, Liam Charles, Amanda Abbington, Adrian Dunbar, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Ruthie Henshall to name a few.

Brown's television work continues into 2019 when her 20 episode BBC series, YolanDa's Band Jam[24] began transmission on CBeebies on 26 January 2019. A second series has been commissioned, scheduled for transmission in 2020. From the 30th of May 2020, she can be found on the UK's Jazz FM at 2 pm (Sky channel 0202) every Saturday.

Personal life

Brown lives in Chigwell with her husband, a music promoter and restaurateur, and their daughters, Jemima and Adelphi.[5][1]

She is a motor racing enthusiast, loves football and supports Newcastle United.

Discography

EPs and albums

Chart positions

This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately.Find sources: "YolanDa Brown" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Audited and Monitored chart position in the UK

Year Album Chart Peak position
April 2012 April Showers, May Flowers UK iTunes Jazz Charts 1
April 2012 April Showers, May Flowers UK Amazon Jazz Charts 1
April 2012 A Step Closer EP UK iTunes Jazz Charts 2
April 2012 April Showers, May Flowers UK Amazon Pop Charts 3
April 2012 April Showers, May Flowers UK Jazz and Blues Charts Official Charts Company 7
June 2017 Love Politics War UK Jazz and Blues Charts Official Charts Company 3

Awards and nominations

This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately.Find sources: "YolanDa Brown" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Year Category Award Result Ref
2008 WIEA Awards Best Musician 2008 Won
Urban Music Awards Best Jazz Act 2008 Nominated
Music of Black Origin Awards Best Jazz Act 2008 Won
2009 Marlborough Jazz Festival Best Performer 2009 Won
Urban Music Awards Best Jazz Act 2009 Won
Urban Music Awards Most Inspiring Act 2009 Nominated
Music of Black Origin Awards Best Jazz Act 2009 Won
2018 Boisdale Music Award Best Instrumentalist 2018 Won
Black Magic Awards Inspiration Award 2018 Won

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Strick, Katie (15 July 2019). "YolanDa Brown on her CBeebies Proms and getting kids into music". Evening Standard. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  2. ^ Kemble, Harry (8 June 2014). "Gants Hill-born saxophonist YolanDa Brown happy to remember her roots". Ilford Recorder. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Why jazz saxophonist Yolanda Brown is taking on the BBC Proms". Financial Times. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "Q&A with musician YolanDa Brown". Financial Times. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  5. ^ a b Smith, Emma (17 July 2017). "Me and My Motor: YolanDa Brown, saxophonist aka 'the Lewis Hamilton of jazz'". Sunday Times Driving. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Bancroftian Network: Yolanda Brown (OB 1994-1999) - BBC Breakfast". www.bancroftians.net. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  7. ^ "International Students". University of Oviedo. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  8. ^ "YolanDa Brown Wins "Best Jazz" MOBO Awards 2008". YolanDa Brown. 29 November 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2019 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ "YolanDa Brown". Yamaha UK and Ireland. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Welcome – Yamaha Music Education Experience – UK & Ireland". Yamahamusiceducation.co.uk. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Meet the woman who created "Posh Reggae"". BBC. 18 July 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Learn Music London connects parents with music-making opportunities". Rhinegold. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Jazz sax queen YolanDa coming to Preston". www.lep.co.uk. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Scherzinger, Brown — and all that jazzz..." British Airways. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  15. ^ "BBC - BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018 Final line-up announced - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. 6 November 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Award Winning YolanDa Brown To Host CBeebies Music Show". 2018 MAD NEWS UK. 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  17. ^ "Is Jools Holland's Annual Hootenanny live?". Radio Times.
  18. ^ "BBC Two - Jools' Annual Hootenanny, 2019/20 - Clips". BBC.
  19. ^ "YolanDa Brown becomes new Chair of Youth Music". 2017 National Foundation for Youth Music. 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  20. ^ "Magic, Improvisation and all that jazz". 2018 Music Mark. 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  21. ^ "Who We Are". 2018 Drake Calleja Trust. 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  22. ^ "The Art of Living Only Happiness". BBC. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  23. ^ "BBC YOUNG Jazz Musician 2018 Final". BBC. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  24. ^ "YolanDa's Band Jam". BBC. Retrieved 28 January 2019.