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Blues queen Erica Brown on taking care of our veterans

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Erica Brown and Theo Wilson in ‘Honorable Disorder.’ Photo by Celia Herrera/URBN Brands.

The new Emancipation Theater tackles the difficult issue of how we support our veterans when they return from war

MEET ERICA BROWN
Erica Brown, who has been called “Colorado’s Queen of the Blues,” plays Nancy Foster, mother of a Denver military veteran struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the new play Honorable Disorder. This is the inaugural production by the new Emancipation Theater Company, and is being hosted at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre. Brown, namesake of the former Erica Brown Band, has worked with some of the finest artists in the world, including B.B. King, Al Green, Delbert McClinton, Tab Benoit, Kenny Neal and, most recently, Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd and the Monsters

  • HometownSikeston, Mo.
  • Home now: Denver
  • Training: Degree in Management from the University of Phoenix
  • What’s your handle? @ericabrownenter on Twitter and @ericabrownentertainment on Instagram
  • Website: ericabrownentertainment.com (photo at right by Steve Mack)
  • Twitter-sized bio: Nerdy girl who loves the blues, history, reading, African-American science fiction and romance — and her family.
  • One role you were completely miscast for: Hasn’t happened yet. I’ve been uniquely suited to every role I’ve played so far. 
  • Bucket-list role: It doesn’t exist: I’d love to play a lead role as a magical teacher-mentor — who also just happens to be a witch or a sorceress —  -n a Harry Potter-style stage play with black characters fighting the forces of evil in America. Black women are not heralded enough for their lives as wise women, crones, witches and Curandera in American theatre and film, and such a production has never been put on, as far as I know.   
  • Big Mama ThorntonWhat’s playing on your Spotify? Any old guard blues woman such as Koko TaylorBig Mama Thornton (pictured right)Memphis Minnie (or Erica Brown )
  • What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? One of my original passions in life was to be a librarian, because I so love history. I would have made a great museum curator. I love old things.
  • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: When my truly stage-frightened daughter stepped up to the musical plate and slayed an audience of 6,000 people singing at her first real gig — at the Telluride Blues Festival!
  • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? Let’s engage them in difficult conversations through theatre. Our play Honorable Disorder has strong language and situations, but we should not necessarily shelter our youth from the realities of life. One of our attendees last weekend was a young teenager, and she absolutely loved and understood everything about our play.
  • What is Honorable Disorder all about? Honorable Disorder, written by pioneering local hip-hop and spoken-word artist Jeff Campbell, tells the story of DeShawn Foster, a native of Denver’s Five Points neighborhood and a veteran of  Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following the loss of his commanding officer and father figure, DeShawn struggles to hold on to his “Soldier’s Creed” back home in Denver.
  • Why does Honorable Disorder matter? Because we are tackling the difficult issue of how we support our veterans when they return from war. It also explores the difficulties the families of returning servicemen and women face, and the scarcity of support they receive. We also talk about and portray homelessness, drug addiction and poverty. These are important conversations that should be at the forefront of how we care for and about ourselves as a nation.
  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Honorable Disorder? A sincere desire to go back into their communities and make real change happen for our vets and their families and support systems. The conversations and help must be real and ongoing. They’ve been there for us, now it’s time for us to step up and care for them.
  • What do you want to get off your chest? Let’s all just try to love each other without anger, rancor and violence, please.  We can do it!

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