KP: Hi Christine! I can’t believe it’s been more than three years since we last did an interview! I think a few things might have happened in the meantime - like your latest album, Souvenirs, winning the 2014 Album of the Year Award at Whisperings Solo Piano Radio! How does that feel?
CB: Wow! Absolutely amazing! I am so thrilled and so grateful! Being nominated is quite an honor, and then being recognized by my peers and winning the award was incredible. Knowing that my music is appreciated by the other artists, whom I truly admire and respect, gives me more confidence, and truly inspires me to keep doing what I love!
That was my first time at the Whisperings All Star Concert and Awards show and it was so much fun seeing so many pianists in one room being so supportive of each other! Souvenirs
also made my Favorites list for 2014 and was nominated for Album of the Year by SoloPiano.com. Congratulations! Well deserved!
Click on the album covers to read Kathy's reviews.
It seems like we had been trying to meet for several years and finally did at the Whisperings concert this past January. That was an amazing experience all around! Am I correct that that was your third Whisperings Album of the Year nomination?
CB: Yes, the Whisperings Concert and Awards show is a fantastic event for solo piano artists and fans of piano music! I called it "The Super Bowl of Solo Piano!" Yes, this was my third nomination. The Wishing Well was nominated in 2012, and Promise in 2009. I was invited to perform at the show last year as an "all-star," but playing as a nominee this year was quite a different experience. The other nominees are pianists I truly admire; being nominated alongside David Lanz was a bit surreal.
KP: I was so impressed with your ease onstage and how you came up with spontaneously funny things to say. I absolutely froze when David (Nevue) handed me the mic! I was so surprised at my own (MVP) award and was trying not to cry and just kind of choked. Are you always so comfortable with an audience?
I am certainly more comfortable now speaking to an audience, but I used to get very nervous. The more performances I do, the more comfortable it gets, obviously, but it really helps just knowing that the audience really supports you and your music. They enjoy hearing about the story behind the song, and connect more to the music after hearing the background or inspiration behind it. I like to inject a little humor to the performance; it lightens the mood, makes people smile, which in turn makes me smile and less nervous.
KP: You mentioned in our previous interview that you were going to try to do more improvisation. How is that going?
CB: Well, it's not something I do on a regular basis! But the last improv I did with other artists at the end of a house concert, I liked so much that I've composed a new song from my improvised part. I am still not super comfortable improvising. I generally don't know proper chord progressions for different key signatures, so it's way out of my comfort zone. But so was performing for people, and now I truly enjoy it!
I sure wish I could get comfortable performing!
is your tenth album. What else is up your sleeve for the near-future?
CB: I am always working on new compositions, so I really look forward to my next release, but haven't given myself a deadline. I'm still spending a bit of time performing and promoting Souvenirs so sometimes it's hard for me to focus on new material while still playing the other music. I also really want to do another Christmas album, this time for children. I have other ideas for future CDs, but it seems now there is never enough time left in the day!
I hear ya on the time thing! I recently reviewed the sheet music books for Souvenirs
and The Wishing Well
and will be reviewing your other songbooks shortly. Are you finding that a lot of people want to play your music?
CB: Yes! For years, I have had requests for sheet music, but didn't have it available. I have recently made a lot more of my music available in sheet music, so I am really trying to spread the word! The entire songbooks for Souvenirs, The Wishing Well, and Promise CDs are now available in spiral bound book versions and printable PDF downloads. Additionally, I have The Best of Christine Brown songbook which includes songs from older albums, Piano Stories and Winter Tapestry.
Quite a few artists that I’ve talked to have said that sheet music is now surpassing CD sales. Have you found that to be true as well?
CB: Well, I hope that it's true since I've invested a lot into having my music transcribed. I just released most of this a few months ago, but I hope to see an increase in interest for my sheet music.
KP: You released A Classic Christmas after we did our last interview. How did you come up with the idea of mixing well-known classical pieces with Christmas carols? It’s one of my all-time favorite Christmas albums!
Thanks Kathy! Well, I have always enjoyed blending songs together, especially when the songs and melodies are so familiar to people. I enjoy the challenge of weaving two themes together into a medley, but connecting them in my own style. I have done this with my two children's albums. Most melodies in children's songs are short and simple, so to make it more interesting, I add variations to the melody, or blend it with another song with a similar theme or phrasing. I did this for a few songs on the Christmas album, too. While working on this, I heard my son play "Moonlight Sonata” and I heard beautiful similarities to the piece "O Holy Night.” I thought the two songs overlapped beautifully in tempo and melody. So I tried this idea with a couple of other Christmas songs.
KP: I never would have put those two pieces together, but it works beautifully! Do you plan to release a sheet music book for that album as well?
CB: Yes! Next up will be the songbook for A Classic Christmas, although I do have a few of these pieces already available in sheet music. I hope to have this entire songbook ready by early fall.
KP: I’ll be looking forward to that!
I’m so excited that you are coming here on May 3rd to do a concert with David Nevue!!! Where else are you playing and who are you playing with on that tour?
CB: Yes, I can't wait play at your place! David and I are also doing a concert in Portland, Friday May 1st, 7:30pm at Classic Pianos, and at First Presbyterian Church of Newport on Sunday at 2pm before we head to your place. Also, Neil Patton will be joining us for a concert at Calvary Chapel Tri-County in Eugene, Saturday May 2nd at 7pm.
KP: Is there anything else that you’d like to talk about?
This was a wonderful year for me, winning the Whisperings Album of the Year, and also being recognized by Kawai Pianos as a Kawai Artist! I am just extremely grateful and happy that people are hearing my music! I work hard and spend hours playing and composing, and I enjoy it so much, I couldn't imagine doing anything else. But it feels really good to be recognized by others, especially peers, for your work, validation for me, that what I'm doing, people seem to like. It feels really amazing, and inspires me to keep going!
Many thanks to Christine Brown for taking the time to chat! Here is the link
to our previous interview. For more information about Christine and her music, be sure to visit her website
and her Artist Page
here on MainlyPiano.com.