Vocalist & Composer – jazz & soul roots: Interview with Carmen Browne

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Carmen Browne is an African-American vocalist and composer living in Dublin, Ireland. See Bio. She was the winner of the 2012 RTE/RAAP Breakthrough Bursary, a national award given by the National Television and Radio Station similar to the BBC in Ireland. Her performance highlights have included being the opening act for M People and Billy Ocean in Dublin’s Vicar Street Venue. She has been the headliner in Dublin’s Workman’s Club, a featured performer at the Dublin Soul Picnic Festival sharing the same stage as Hozier, a popular Irish Soul Musician and a headline act at the Bray Jazz Festival.

Carmen’s debut album, Cloud Ballet, was recorded in collaboration with her producer Everett Bradley, a current member of Bruce Springsteen’s band and reached number 1 on Ireland’s jazz chart. She is currently finishing her second album, “Sublime Light”, which will debut in 2017. For more information, see www.CarmenBrowne.com

NP: You have a remarkable background. In your bio on your website you discuss your evolution and inspiration. Could you elaborate a little more on your inspiration? What are your sources of inspiration?

Browne: Although I have been singing since age 6 in church and studied music formally since I was 11, (I played the violin and the piano as a child as well as singing), I feel that in songwriting, I’m mostly inspired by higher thought or spirit. I like to think of each song as being it’s own personality and it’s own being with a message it wants conveyed and to a certain extent I am just an open channel for it. It is obviously written through my voice, but quite often, I will hear a song as a completed work and need to record it or notate it immediately.

NP: Were there ever any crossroads when you wondered whether you were headed in the right direction?

Browne: I don’t know if there was a crossroads, but I have known since I was very young that I was a musician and that there was very little that could ever stop me being one, in some capacity. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t interface with music on some level, even when I’m sad or sick. I’m not sure I would have been able to survive without music as it is such a part of me, like breathing.

NP: How would you describe you singing style and what are the things
that have affected that style, genre or content?

Browne: I would describe my singing style as dreamy and resonant. I sing for myself as much as for an audience. I must feel a chill when I’m singing to feel connected to the vibration of the music. As far as genre, well I love jazz music. I used to listen to standards as a child, when my peers would have been listening to Hip Hop, R&B, electro or pop. Actually I love all music as I can find an appreciation in most quality music. But my voice hits the air as smooth dreamy jazz.

NP: Are things in the field of jazz you wish to experiment and or
explore?

Browne: I feel I still have a message to get out there and I’m letting the spirit guide me on how best to spread the message. I feel I have a very positive message of love and empowerment that is healing for me. I think there are any number of people around us who can really use the message I have and I am constantly propelled by that purpose. As for experiments, my dream would be to do some collaboration with other contemporary songwriters and musicians like Jamie Cullum or Gregory Porter.