15 Most Interesting Seniors 2010: Rachel A. Brown

Wilson Yu

Rachel A. Brown’s ’10 first music venue was her bathroom. Her first audience was her MacBook. When she first began recording herself singing and playing guitar, she says a secluded hiding spot was the only kind of performing environment that she felt comfortable with. A lot has changed since then.

Her own father, Neil Brown ’74, had never heard his daughter sing until a few days before she left for college. He admits to being flabbergasted the first time he listened to her voice on the iPod she’d handed to him. “I was just literally dumbfounded. I never had the idea it was anywhere in her,” he says.

These days, Brown’s talent is no longer a secret. “Last semester, junior year, I started going to open mics in the area and I was terrified,” says Brown.

On a family vacation in Bermuda this past summer, Brown found herself at an open mic night at a lounge called Chewstick. This night ultimately led to something much bigger. The people at Chewstick loved her breezy, lighthearted singing and lyrics. They invited Brown to return to Bermuda in July to perform at their annual musical festival Beachfest. Brown opened for R&B sensations Robin Thicke and Mary J. Blige, catapulting her into a world of musical superstars.

Brown identifies this concert as one of her favorite performing experiences. “It was just really moving, I’m on the beach singing ‘Bermuda’, and I can hear the ocean I’m singing about. This was the first time I heard some of my songs really come to life,” says Brown.

After Beachfest, she was invited to perform in the Bermuda Music Festival in October. This time, she opened for John Legend.

Brown, herself, is a legend in the making. Her forays into music began when she purchased a guitar during her gap year after high school. But her creativity was alive and thriving long before that. “I was always into making stuff,” she says. “Ever since I was small, no matter how it manifested itself, I would make something.”

“She is very, very self-taught,” says her father. This is evidenced by the expansive range of her artistic ventures, from producing mini magazines at the age of 14 to silk-screening her own clothing.

As a Visual and Environmental Studies concentrator, Brown’s focus is on film. She is currently creating a documentary for her thesis that captures the excitement and intrigue as three fashion designers prepare to showcase their collections. She brings the same charisma to her work that she exudes when singing.

“Rachel is some wonderful combination of quiet and exuberant. She’s extremely attentive to the things going on around her and that’s true both in the classroom and in shooting,” says her thesis advisor Professor Robb Moss.

Her friend, Robert B. Niles ’10, who first met Brown in Annenberg freshman year, explains how this creative drive extends into her daily life. Niles says that Brown “calls herself ‘the enforcer’ because she makes things happen.”

Post-graduation, Brown aims to channel her energy into film and music. She describes her songs as “kind of mellow, sort of beachy, just want you to feel good.” Clearly, Brown could be described the same way.

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