While contemplating your goal of being a music star, it’s smart to have something to fall back on. For singer-songwriter Suzie Brown, that meant getting her MD at Harvard, a Master of Science in Translational Research from the University of Pennsylvania, then practicing cardiology. That’s right, Brown—whose first full-length, Heartstrings, was released May 24, 2011—is no slacker. And it’s with that same resolve that she decided one day to defer her dream no longer.
It happened at her friend’s wedding in June 2008. Brown was goaded to jump on stage at the reception, where she sang one of her favorite tunes, Bonnie Raitt’s “Angel From Montgomery.” The crowd fell silent. This, she discovered, was a good thing: They were awestruck by her honey-twanged voice. “The whole weekend, people were coming up to me asking if I was a musician,” says Brown. “It gave me that little bit of extra confidence I need to take the plunge and start writing songs.” Just six months later, she’d find fans in folk-jazz artist Amos Lee and country great Lyle Lovett. A year after that, she was named the “Best of Philly” for music talent by Philadelphia magazine:
"Bluesy, folky, achy, sweet-voiced Suzie Brown. A practicing cardiologist pursuing a career in singing (her own songs) and playing the guitar, she's part Emmylou Harris, part Allison Krauss, and totally worth seeing. (Try Tin Angel). Or even just hearing..."
Her burgeoning career has continued to move at a rapid pace. By early 2009, she sold out her first solo show at the Tin Angel—that very club she used to frequent as a fan. Before long, she was opening for Lyle Lovett at the local concert hall. Just nine months after that, she had written enough material for a self-released EP called Side Streets. Says Brown, “I had this realization that music made me way too happy to commit my whole life to medicine.” It was a pinch-me moment: Realizing her potential, Brown found a part-time clinical job to pay the bills, and has since devoted herself to making music. “Things have moved along fairly quickly,” says the ever-effervescent Brown. We’ll say: In two years, she’s gone from composing her first song to releasing her first full-length album. Says Brown, “I can’t believe this is my life.”
Winner, 'Best of Philly' for music talent 2010
Winner, Best Female Singer-Songwriter, Origivation Magazine's Readers' Choice Awards 2010
Semi-finalist, International Songwriting Competition 2010
Runner up, Connecticut Folk Festival Songwriting contest 2010
Honorable Mention, SongCircle Songwriting contest 2010
'I'll Be Gone' from Heartstrings featured in the May 2011 Taste of Triple A Sampler
Winner, Quad showcase at New England Regional Folk Alliance Conference 2011
Winner, Artist of the Month on myruralradio.com July 2012
For more information: www.suziebrownsongs.com
Triple A Radio Contact: JB Brennerfirstname.lastname@example.org
Americana Radio contact: Al Moss/ 615-297-0258/ email@example.com
Spencer Cohen - Drums
David Streim - Wurlitzer Piano, Vocal Harmonies
Will Wright - Bass
Matt Kass - Electric Guitar
Side Streets, EP released 9/12/09. "That Fence" (track one on the EP) was the WXPN pick of the day on 7/31/09, and the record was featured as one of 2009's best local releases by Helen Leicht of WXPN. In addition to regular airplay on WXPN, the record has been featured on West Chester's WCHE, New England's WICN, Vermont's WRUV, and other regional stations.
Heartstrings, LP, released 5/24/11. Produced by Barrie Maguire (credits include Amos Lee, Rickie Lee Jones, Natalie Merchant). Current radio play on: WXPN, WZBC, WMBR, KDNK, WETS, WIKS, WBSD, KPFT, KVMR, WCOO, WVGN, WZBC, WGCS, KBCS, WXLV, KNBA, WMWV, KTAO, WETS, KVNF, KEOS, WUMB
Heartstrings was also picked up by PlayNetwork - with distribution to Starbucks, Gap, major grocery stores, Seattle's Best Coffee, Anthropologie, Eddie Bauer, and others
Internet radio: Freight Train Boogie podcast, Radio Free Americana
You Can Lie
What You Do To Me
I'll Be Gone
Peace Of Mind
Waiting for September
Film at 11: Suzie Brown
[+ Show ]
"When it comes to MAGNET’s home base of Philadelphia, we’ve always been a little biased. But that’s ..."When it comes to MAGNET’s home base of Philadelphia, we’ve always been a little biased. But that’s not why we’re so excited about Philly musician Suzie Brown. Aside from being a first-rate singer/songwriter (no small feat), she is a Harvard-educated cardiologist with a master’s degree in translational research from the University of Pennsylvania who has also studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music and sang in an a cappella group while an undergrad at Dartmouth. (Feeling kind of like a loser in comparison yet? We are. Like most of Philadelphia, we went to Temple.)"
Blood Makes Noise
[+ Show ]
"Heartstrings (Freshie) doesn't sound like the work of someone so green. It's twangier than Brown's ..."Heartstrings (Freshie) doesn't sound like the work of someone so green. It's twangier than Brown's Montreal-via-Boston upbringing would suggest and more polished than her 2009 EP, with a flash of sass on "Nice Girl" and a slow burn on "Lonesome Moon." The title track has a Patsy Cline feel and a double meaning: It's a portrait of romantic yearning and a nod to her part-time job as a cardiologist."
Cardiologist/Singer Inspires to Pursue Your Passion
[+ Show ]
"Suzie Brown is a cardiologist AND a beautiful singer/songwriter. . . But what I find truly inspi..."Suzie Brown is a cardiologist AND a beautiful singer/songwriter. . .
But what I find truly inspiring about her is that after Harvard Medical School she had the courage and the self understanding to realize she didn’t need to play just one role in this life: cardiologist. She knew she didn’t have to stay in 'one box.'"
The strumming, singing cardiologist
[+ Show ]
"Her songs showcase her smooth fingerpicking and clear voice. Some are ballads with a dash of countr..."Her songs showcase her smooth fingerpicking and clear voice. Some are ballads with a dash of country twang, offset by the texture of lush chords."
Best of Philly 2010
[+ Show ]
Bluesy, folky, achy, sweet-voiced Suzie Brown. A practicing cardiologist pursuing a career in singi...Bluesy, folky, achy, sweet-voiced Suzie Brown. A practicing cardiologist pursuing a career in singing (her own songs) and playing the guitar, she's part Emmylou Harris, part Allison Krauss, and totally worth seeing. (Try Tin Angel). Or even just hearing - her debut album is called 'Side Streets'.
Heart doc prescribes her Tin Angel gig tomorrow
[+ Show ]
Nobody's more amazed than Suzie Brown at how music has changed her life. Tomorrow night at Tin An...Nobody's more amazed than Suzie Brown at how music has changed her life.
Tomorrow night at Tin Angel, she'll be onstage, long dark hair, dark eyes, sweetly singing her love songs about mixed messages and tender feelings.
But just last week, a decade of dedication finally landed her in another heartfelt gig - talking arteries and angina, statins and EKGs with patients three days a week at Albert Einstein Medical Center.
Becoming a cardiologist - not surprising for a daughter of two doctors.
But singer-songwriter? Fate threw her a curve.
After Harvard Medical School and a residency in Boston, Brown came to Philadelphia four years ago, to work on her fellowship and earn a master's at Penn, on a tough-minded track toward medical research.
So, two years ago, if someone had suggested she'd fall in love with songwriting and performing, she'd have suggested the person was "on crack," she said.
She didn't write her first song until June 2008, a week or so after turning 34.
She loved music as a child, memorizing countless songs. But she hardly sang until an impulsive tryout for an a cappella group her senior year at Dartmouth College.
For once, she felt like she belonged. "I was like, these are my people. I just felt like I fit in so much better," she said.
After college, while working in a lab, she taught herself guitar, then attended a summer music camp at Boston's Berklee School of Music.
"It was like this whole new world opened to me," she said. When the session ended, she cried.
While training to be a physician, she squeezed in open-mike nights and gigs with a "shameless cover band - you name the cheesy song from the '90s and we definitely did it."
It was Philadelphia's music scene, though, that really turned on something in her soul.
"I never knew I was going to write songs. I just wanted the community," she said.
It was a "real respite for me" to have friends who were "just nice," loved music and "didn't judge me based on academics," said Brown, whose down-to-earth lyrics and conversation hardly hint at her med cred.
After friends encouraged to overcome her fear of writing songs, she started doing open-mikes at spots like Fergie's Pub, where she had her first gig in October.
"People were just wonderful. They started asking me to play," she said.
After playing the Tin Angel in January, she opened for Livingston Taylor at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville.
She knew her life would never be the same. "It was clear to me that music made me way too happy to ever not do it again," she said.
So she steered toward clinical work - seeing patients part-time - and away from research.
She's not chasing glory, just joy, she said.
"I don't want to need to be big success," she said. ". . . Record deals, big gigs, you lose sight of what made you start doing it to begin with."
The Tin Angel show marks the debut of her first CD, an EP titled Side Streets.
Although its five songs focus on romantic love, one can't help wondering if some lines have double meanings.
Was love of music partly on her mind when "Mission Control" says, "It happened so fast I started falling for you"?
"Over and Done" could apply to her feelings about research: "Who knows what might have been / 'Cause the writing's been on these four walls since the day we did begin."
"Longest Road" could even be about the whole journey: "Well I did know then what I still know now but that don't make me smart / 'Cause the longest road is from my head down to my heart."
After Tin Angel, she'll perform at the PSALM Salon on Sept. 19 and Kelly Writers House on Sept. 21.
More information, including additional concert dates, can be found at Suzie Brown's MySpace page, www.myspace.com/suziebrownsongs.
With singer Suzie Brown, it's always about heart
[+ Show ]
This is a story about heart — studying it, following it and singing with all of it. Much of Suzie...This is a story about heart — studying it, following it and singing with all of it.
Much of Suzie Brown’s life has been focused on the heart in one way or another. When she’s not onstage performing, opening her heart to those listening, Brown can be found working with the heart during her day job as a cardiologist.
Yes, you read that right. The young woman who can strum the guitar and sing about love and life with a rich, passionate voice also dons a stethoscope [and] works as a cardiologist.
“I started jamming with this guy I met at the gym, just to play, and he said, ‘Suzie Brown, I can’t believe you’re not writing songs with the way you sing. I can’t believe you don’t have anything to say.’ I was like, ‘I do have something to say, I’m just afraid to write something that sucks.’ He said, ‘You have to accept, if you’re going to write songs, that some of them are going to suck. You just have to get over that.’”
So Brown put pen to paper. And out came heartfelt songs that … well, they certainly didn’t suck. Because not long after she began writing and performing her own music in June 2008, Brown was nabbed for numerous other gigs, some of which were rather high-profile.
“My first song came out in two or three hours,” she said. “Even though I was completely petrified to share it with anyone, I had to share it with someone. So I started going to Fergie’s [Pub’s] open mike, totally anonymously. And one day at Fergie’s, I think in August, one or two months after I started, three different people asked me to play gigs. I was flabbergasted.
Following Her Heart
[+ Show ]
"I've never written creatively before this. I've never written in a journal. The only type of writ..."I've never written creatively before this. I've never written in a journal. The only type of writing I've done is scientific," says Brown, who cites Bonnie Raitt - "her old, bluesy stuff from the '70s'" - Joni Mitchell, Patty Griffin and southern rockers like the Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule as among her biggest influences. "I was so afraid to write, 'I'm going to hold you all night. I'm going to love you just right.' I'm so hard on myself, so critical. I didn't want to write anything that would be an insult to [the craft].
But so far, what she as penned is a collection of articulate and expressive relationship snapshots, all plied with a voice of dulcet fervor that is as effortlessly at home with bittersweet folk-pop balladry as it is the twangy brushstrokes of more country-flavored tunes. The ingenuousness that she conveys in person is in her songs, too, whether she's singing about a romance that sweetly endures the years of the kind that comes wrapped in heartbreak from the start, the wary comfort of a familiar relationship or a lost love that continues to haunt.
Originals: You Can Lie, Round the Sun, Mission Control, Part of Me, Longest Road, Take Your Time, That Fence, Side Streets, Over and Done, Nice Girl, Serendipity, Peace of Mind, Waiting For September, Heart Strings, Lonesome Moon, Easily Amused, I'll Be Gone, Maybe I Will, Song For Amy, What You Do to Me. Covers: Long Road (Patty Griffin), Miss Ohio (Gillian Welch), Angel From Montgomery (John Prine), By the Mark (Gillian Welch), Mighty Tight Woman (Sippie Wallace/Bonnie Raitt), Sugar In My Bowl (Nina Simone) My set lists vary based on the venue and time allotted.