Elly Brown
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Elly Brown

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The best kept secret in music


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'Wax the Roses'
debut, self-released CD.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Elly Brown’s voice is an instrument of rare and unique beauty. A voice characterized by Rolling Stone as “ethereal and angelic” and by the Washington Post as one of “pre-Raphaelite beauty and cool clear water.” This voice has never been brought to the forefront as dramatically as in her new release Wax the Roses. There is a toughness of spirit rendered in this new body of work. It is a labor of love brought to fruition through the efforts of long-time instrumental collaborators Bob Riley and Clifford Carter and new friends Marc Black, Eric Parker and Mike Esposito. Her songwriting, a combination of timeless, emotive melody and near spoken-word poetry distinguishes this CD, elevating it to a disk that stands easily next to peers Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams and Sam Phillips. From the dark mystical strains of Clifford’s Hammond B3 in “Sister’s Serpent Rum” to the purity of Eileen Ivers’ violin on the breath-taking “Prairie Hymn”, this new recording begs repeated listening.

Elly was born and raised in Oswego, NY a college town on the shores of Lake Ontario. At age 17 she left home and boldly moved to NYC, where her career as a musician began. She started out simply sitting in with friends in local bars, singing country classics and her own favorite Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris songs. At age 20 she was asked to join a loose collective of musicians sequestered on a farm in Milford, Pennsylvania. The band was eventually named South and featured the legendary Lonnie Mack, Crazy Horse bassist-Tim Drummond, and keyboardist Stan Szelest (The Band and Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks). Elly began writing and lived for two years as the sole female voice in this rooted and powerful ensemble. A state-of-the-art 24-track studio was erected on the property and the band began rehearsing with plans to record. But the creator and financial backer of the band died in a car accident, and the studio was torn down and the band was torn apart by the experience. Elly returned to NYC with her soon-to-be husband, South’s drummer, Bob Riley. This relationship/partnership defined the next 15 years of her life. She formed her own band with a revolving group of musicians that included Marc Ribot, T-Bone Wolk, GE Smith, Robbie Kondor,Bob Riley and Mark Shulman. She supported herself by singing her heart out anywhere she could. Elly became a regular opening act at the iguana-crested Lone Star Café on 13th St. and was often on the bill with James Brown, Sam and Dave, Junior Walker, Delbert McClinton, TajMahal and others. Grace Pool-In the late 1980’s Elly and Bob formed Grace Pool, an atmospheric, alternative rock band fronted by Elly. Although a departure from her rootsy beginnings, the classic American quality of her songwriting and her country-tinged voice were still easily identifiable. The group was lauded by critics, signed by Warner/Reprise and released two albums and played on forward-thinking radio stations throughout thenortheast. Their two Warner/Reprise albums are regarded by many as underground classics. The beauty of Grace Pool was captured by pioneer video director Ken Ross in a 1991 video – “Me Without You” – that appeared repeatedly on MV’s 120 Minutes. During the lifespan of Grace Pool, Elly was twice nominated for The New York Music Awards “Best Rock Female Vocalist.” The band disbanded in the early 1990’sand left the major-label experience behind. Elly has since been raising her two children, but ceaselessly writing and recording. She co-wrote the evocative “Set the Prairie on Fire” with Grammy award-winning friend Shawn Colvin on Shawn’s Fat City album. She was a guest member of the Hoboken-based band, Rage to Live, which featured the pop-punk songwriting of Glenn Morrow. Elly has been creatively reclusive this past year writing and recording for this most recent and intimate CD, Wax the Roses.