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Real Life Stories
By: Angela Douglas
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Diva Melodies - We give you Sheree Brown and other host of stars at the Indigo 02 London

Following a resurrection of all things vintage, soul legends Sheree Brown, Leon Ware, Jean Carne & The Valentine Brothers headlined the second Giants of Rare Groove concerts at the Indigo o2, London, this spring. Sheree Brown took time out to share her story with DS. Bubbling with excitement she giggled her way through most of the interview as she awaited her first ever British performance. 
 
Born on Christmas Day, 1955 and raised in Los Angeles, the soul-folk-gospel singer recorded two albums in the early eighties – “Straight Ahead” and “The Music,” and was blessed to work with luminaries Patrice Rushen and Stevie Wonder. 30 years on and her most popular track “It’s A Pleasure” is still played in clubs. But, Sheree was more than a one hit wonder having co-written some of the dance floor fillers of today.  
 
 
 
 
 
What have you been doing since the 80’s?
I took time off to be a mum my two children are now adults. But I was still writing. I co-wrote Zhane’s “Groove Thang” with Patrice and Naughty By Nature in ‘94’ and the most recent thing was Gospel artist Kirk Franklin’s “Looking For You.”.  The story behind Kirk’s track is they used “Haven’t You Heard” which I co-wrote with Patrice in ‘79’, and so they created a whole new song and we got credit because we wrote the original. I hadn’t even met Kirk, but got the opportunity when we got nominated for a Stella Award, so me and my husband, Minister Douglass Johnson Sr, went to the awards just to meet Kirk and his wife - that was a joy.
I also co-wrote “Look Up Watch Out” with Patrice and “Settle For My Love” which was covered by Musiq Soulchild. We also formed SBPR (Sisters Being Positively Real aka Sheree Brown Patrice Rushen) and put out an album in 2001. So, I’ve done lots of work behind the scenes in music. 
 
 
Were you surprised you got the call to come over?
Yes, because I’d just re-released both of my Capital Records on CD. I started social networking on Facebook and someone said it would be great if you could come and do a re-release celebration and then they connected me with the promoters. 
 
 
Did you realise your song “It’s A Pleasure” was so big over here? 
I knew it was popular but I didn’t realise it was as big as it is until recently.
 
 
On your first album you have Patrice, Paulinho Da Costa and Syreeta Wright. How did you manage to pull that caliber of artist in?
For one thing I said a lot of prayers (laughs).  I think it had a lot to do with my faith and knowing that something was gonna happen. Well, I met Syreeta and we became really good friends and she was a mentor. I met Patrice when I’d gone to a jazz workshop to see Joe Pass, a mean guitarist, and I thought it was gonna be a hands on thing but it was a lecture. Somebody said you should go see this sista over next door, she’s maaad (giggles). So, I took my guitar and went and someone introduced me to Patrice. She said, “You play the guitar? Well take it out and play it, then”. So I started playing some of my original stuff and she said if I ever needed anything call me. Patrice ended up working on my first demo which was 7 years before I got my Capital deal in 1980. Alexander Thomas (Earth Wind & Fire) was my neighbor at the time, so he came onboard, and Minnie Rippertons husband Dick Rudolph produced it so he brought in other people too. It was just a real natural thing and an energy that just came together.
 
 
 
Tell me about your new single and forthcoming album
My current single release, “It’s Just a Simple Love” is part of a project (book and music cd) called, “Messages From The Heart” and a re-release that Expansions has just done of my records. It was inspired by this London trip, because it’s like a new beginning and resurgence for me and I am so grateful. I have an affinity to England, the people here and the music. Things are happening now that never happened the first time around. It’s amazing. I’m gonna make sure the rest of the project has the elements that the English love (giggles). Plus Patrice will appear on the album too as we are collaborating on "You Can Shine”.
 
 
Is your new music in a similar vain to your old work?
Some of it is. There is a song, “Inside My Love”,  that Patrice produced for me which is a cover of a Minnie’s song. It’s just been sitting there since the early ‘90s. The title track is co-written and produced by Leon Ware. It’s amazing and speaks so beautifully and positively about women. There’s also a cover of one of blues/folk singer Phoebe Snow's songs - which has so much more meaning to me now since her passing in April. There will also be some new styles. I lost touch with the organic nature of recording and performing and I want to get back to that. New technology became a convenience as it was more cost effective but it’s not the same.
 
 
What inspired the album?
Around Thanksgiving 2007 I contracted an infection in my blood stream. No one knew why or how I got it. I was hospitalised and my doctor told me afterwards that it was touch and go whether I would survive. There was always a feeling of comfort because my faith leads me to believe that everything would be alright. But, something happened afterward; a since of urgency along with a new appreciation for life. “Messages From The Heart” was inspired while laying behind the walls of my hospital room. It’s also a book that includes my story along with the true stories of eight other women. I've dedicated a song to each one of them on the album.
 
 
What has been the highlight of your career?
I’d say sitting right here is the truth (giggles). I’m just blown away by the love, and it’s a second chance for me. 
 
 
 
Sheree's website: www.bbegsite.com
 
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