Dr. William A. Brown, a founding member of the Center’s Black Music Repertory Ensemble and a Distinguished Professor of Voice at the University of North Florida, has died, reports the Center. Dr. Brown suffered a fatal heart attack at his home in Jacksonville, Florida, on October 20. He was 66.
Bill Brown was a tenor renowned for his “technical virtuosity, beautiful tone, and interpretative commitment” (The Boston Globe) who commanded a repertoire encompassing practically all musical genres and styles. He performed with leading orchestras and operatic companies throughout the world and appeared on all of the major U.S. television networks. He made recordings for CBS Records, London, Nonesuch, New World Records, Telarc, CRI, Gun Mar, Musical Heritage, Centaur, and Albany Records. Bill had a special affinity for 20th century music and appeared with many of the major contemporary music ensembles. Several major composers, including David Baker, Wendell Logan, and Olly Wilson, dedicated compositions to him. He was also a respected expert on, and advocate for, vocal works by black composers, and many singers have cause to be grateful for his generosity in sharing his knowledge, as well as music from his extensive personal collection. At the Center, he was appreciated for his dedication, his enthusiastic support, and his ebullient spirit.
Brown is survived by his mother Ida Mae Perry, and stepfather Jack Perry, a daughter Talya Harmon, a granddaughter, and fiancée, Brenda Kelly. The University of North Florida is planning a memorial service to be held in the near future, about which no details are available at this time.
***Reprinted with the permission of the Center for Black Music Research