Chastity Brown

Chastity Brown


Imagine this jam session-- Patty Griffin, Bob Marley, Erykah Badu, Nina Simone and Ryan Adams at a Tennessee tent revival! That gives you just a little taste of the musical vibe of CHASTITY BROWN!


With her nose ring and her loose dreads sprouting every which way in a free-fro, Minneapolis singer-songwriter Chastity Brown, 25, looks like an urban Rastafarian, a Marley-loving Bohemian. When she opens her mouth in song, however, she reveals a complex soul � a country-born, gospel-raised, activist poet who sings about women, race, love and politics with an edgy tenderness.

"I suffer for my race," she wails in her song, "Woman Gotta Move." "I suffer for my skin. / Is it not enough to suffer / For the woman that I am? / Still she's beautiful / But half divided�."

Born and raised in Union City, Tenn., a small town two hours north of Memphis, Chastity found an outlet for her considerable musical abilities in her church. She picked up the saxophone in sixth grade and played on a praise and worship team. While her strict Pentecostal church frowned on "secular" music (a mentor warned her against Bob Marley, whose music she thought "gorgeous," because "people viewed him as a god"), she absorbed the gospel music of the Wynans, Gary Oliver and Stephen Curtis Chapman and occasionally sneaked Fats Domino, BB King and Jewel.

She wrote her first song ("It was kind of a prayer," she says) at age 15. By the time she graduated from high school, she knew what she wanted to be: a music minister. "I was really attracted to the experience of music, to the involvement and power that music had," she says. Her dream changed after the small religious school she attended in Baltimore, Md., expelled her for breaking a rule against dating. She moved to Knoxville, took a few community college classes and began performing her growing repertoire in public.

"My heart was in free-fall," she says, "and the only way to get it out, to process it, was writing music." In Knoxville, she abandoned many of the strict rules she had thought essential to religious devotion. "My whole world opened up musically," she says. She soaked up Janis Joplin, Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Lauryn Hill, all of whom she counts as significant influences on her music. She also discovered "the power of me just being myself."

In September 2005, Chastity moved with a friend to Minneapolis, where she now lives and performs with "The Sound," a world beat / acoustic groove ensemble featuring Don Strong on bass and Michael X. Johnson on drums. To conjure up Chastity Brown�s unique style, think Van Morrison (especially his "Astral Weeks" album) jamming with Tracy Chapman, Nina Simone, throw in a little Lauryn Hill and Joni Mitchell, under girded with a driving funk-gospel blues, and you'll start to get the vibe.

Her lyrics are both personal, infused with a deeply rooted spirituality, and political, ethically hard hitting. In "Four Chords," she bemoans the isolation of the individual in contemporary America:

"To shut myself in, to shut myself down, to shut myself out / Like a blind man trying to find his way around in a city he's never been to / Never even wanted to step foot there anyway."

Many of her songs reflect the marriage of sacred and secular made possible after her break with her childhood church. "Music was always a very sacred time," she says. "It's still a devotion. I'm not trying to separate my two worlds anymore." Perhaps most notably, Chastity sings about women, about her identity as a woman. "I believe in women," she says. "I believe that a woman can do whatever." She rolls a cigarette. "Don't think I can't just because I'm a woman."

"A Minneapolis-by-way-of-Knoxville roots-soul singer of the first order, Chastity Brown possesses the sort of rare chilled-out star quality that goes beyond time and place. --Jim Walsh, Star Tribune, March 18, 2007


debut CD of Chastity Brown & The Sound,
released July, 2007, Chanhassen Melody DSP

Set List

Concert Set (90 minutes plus)

Pull Myself Together
Done and Gone
Get So Low
Peace In The Valley
Nothing's Wrong
Woman Gotta Move
Paint On Canvas
Four Chords (Do The Best You Can)
The Fairie Song
What If Peace Came (Hold Still)
Raised On The Gospel
Dream In Color Vision

club dates are ususally two or three sets of original songs running 45-50 minutes per set.