Tracey: You play drums, percussion and guitar as well as sing. Which instrument do you prefer playing?
Ward Brown: I grew up playing drums and emulating or at least trying to emulate players like Lenny White, Alphonse Muzon, Chester Thompson, etc. I always aspired to be a jazz/funk drummer. That really was my thing. However, I love writing songs and my song writing style was very much out of the jazz/funk vibe. My song writing always leaned towards relationships, love, you know…. So I started playing guitar just to arrange the ideas in my head. I’ve never really thought of myself as a guitarist because I always wanted to be a drummer. However, within Brown’s Bag, guitar seems to be a natural fit with the rest of the band and I’m really starting to enjoy and prefer it. Hopefully, the guys will let me play drums a bit on the new show but we’ll see.
Tracey: If you could duo with any soul lady right now… who would you chose?
Ward Brown: Gladys Knight hands down without a question…. I even have the song. Whenever I hear her voice I get chills!!!!!!!! Who else can be sweeter as a song opens and take you on an emotional roller coaster towards the end of the track other than the wonderful Gladys Knight…even her name says Soul…. come on say it with me one time….GLADYS. Her vocal quality on tracks like “Neither One Of Us” WOW…. I’m not worthy.
Tracey: You have an “old school” 70’s feel to your music. Which 70’s group would you have like to been part of?
Ward Brown: I would have loved to play drums with Frankie Beverly and Maze. Although I loved the styling and choreography of groups such as The Dramatics, The Temps, Stylistics, etc., I generally gravitated towards bands that could sing, Bar-Kays, LTD, etc. because I was a drummer that could sing. Frankie Beverly and Maze would have been home for me. I knew their entire show.
Tracey: If you want to treat yourself, what would you chose to do/have?
Ward Brown: Right now I seem to work so hard, that a real treat for me is to grab a good movie, my favourite quilt and a bowl of popcorn and I’ve just found two hours of paradise.
Tracey: If I asked you to sing me your favourite song, which song would it be?
Ward Brown: "The Whole Town’s Laughing At Me" – Teddy Pendergrass. Don’t ask me why, that’s personal... Hahahahahaha
Tracey: Could you tell us a little bit about your background and your life growing up?
Ward Brown: I grew up in Chicago, IL and was fortunate to live next door to Muddy Waters. There was always music around and I along with two older brothers naturally gravitated to it. I played drums, another brother played bass, the other played keyboards and we all sang. We formed a funk band along with a guitarist from the neighbourhood and before long we found ourselves playing all over Chicago with dreams of stardom in our heads. At the time I didn’t realize just how good we were however, occasionally I’ll listen to old tapes of us and think, gee we were pretty good. That was the beginning of the music bug for me.
Tracey: If a lady were to make you a special meal, what would that meal be?
Ward Brown: Hahahahahahahahahahahaha – You really don’t give up do you? Hahahahahahaha
Tracey: Please explain to us your technique of writing – where do you get your inspiration?
Ward Brown: I really try and not make a song complicated. I like to write about things people experience each day. Break-ups, a chance meeting, falling in love. Things that happen to people around me as well as my own personal experiences inspire me. I know you want more - but that’s all you get. Hahahahaha.
Tracey: Sherrod Brown sings falsetto on your album. Are you two related or coincidentally share the same name?
Ward Brown: Sherrod and I coincidently share the same last name. He’s a dear friend and I love being in the studio with him. We really work well together.
Tracey: What would you say challenges you most in your musical career?
Ward Brown: I like using the techniques and equipment of the mid to late 70’s that was used to make some of the greatest music of my life. My biggest challenge is keeping true to that. In this day of sampling and over sampling in some cases, digital this and that, software to correct pitch and timing issues, etc. etc. I’m attempting to go into the studio, with a few very talented musicians and catch that feeling and magic to tape, consistently. Imagine what artists went through during the 70’s where some of them only had 8 or if you were really big time 16 tracks to work with. Can you imagine “Love Unlimited Orchestra” in a 16-track studio? That was the day of depending on the musician’s ability rather than how accurate a producer could “polish” a part. That is what timeless music was born of and I have tons of respect for musicians of that fabric. I’ve challenged myself to keep “Brown’s Bag” music “real” and sometimes that’s tough. However, if the trade off is to digitally correct a part at the risk of losing the feel or emotion, you can believe that “Brown’s Bag” is going for the feel or emotion every time.
Tracey: Which person has made the most impact on your life so far and why?
Ward Brown: I had and uncle Elsie Norswether (now deceased) that took me under his wing at a very young age. He steered me away from gangs and negative influences of the streets during my childhood. He made me understand the value of God, hard work, honesty, respect of people, but most of all, he taught me to believe in myself. What an incredible man. If I can be a fraction of the person he was, I know I lived my life well.
Tracey: What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?
Ward Brown: Over the past two years, I’ve released two albums…I forgot what leisure time is. This is my leisure time….Hahaha. Really, I’m very happy to wake up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings, grab my guitar in the total quite and watch the sunrise over my backyard. After that, I go back to sleep… (LOL)
Tracey: What would you say has been your most memorable performance so far?
Ward Brown: I think my most memorable performance is yet to come. It will be the day I look into the audience and people are singing “Brown’s Bag” songs or something about a “Brown’s Bag” song really touched someone and they can’t help but show it. With everything I see from my Record Company (Soulchoonz) I know that day is in the very near future. I’ll have my Record Company contact you on that day.
Tracey: What was the last CD you put on your player? (You can’t say “Soul Satisfied”, because that doesn’t count :o)
Ward Brown: "Roads Of Life" – Bobby Womack. You know I’m old school. I got “re-turned” on to it by a UK DJ friend of mine named Darren Horn.
Tracey: Can you describe a typical day in your life right now?
Ward Brown: The big thing that we are currently working on is the new live show…under the direction of Leroy Hurst who happens to be our Bass Player and Music Director. We are spending time with set and clothes designers not to mention rehearsals and its keeping us very busy at the moment.
Tracey: Anything else you would like to say to us here at Just Soul?
Ward Brown: I think you guys are absolutely fantastic and it’s so refreshing to see and be part of such a dynamic vehicle that keeps Soul Music in the forefront. Keep up the good work and thank you for bringing me into the family.
Tracey: I’m looking forward to getting that call from your record company when you can tell me your most memorable performance so far. I don’t think it will be long before I get that call… I for one will remember my journey into work that chilly UK autumn day in October ‘06, when I first listened to your beautiful album “Soul Satisfied.” Thank you for the interview and good luck with all your future goals and ambitions.
You can find information and buy the CD at: http://www.soulchoonz.com/Featured_Artists/browns_bag.html.