The meteoric rise of recording artist Anthony Brown is a fascinating case study on how a modest Baltimore musician exploded from anonymity to overnight success, over 5 fabulous years, characterized by sold-out venues, Stellar Awards, and chart-topping albums. On the strength of his signature song, Worth, Brown blew up beyond belief and became the flavor-of-the-year for people-of-faith looking for much more punch and power in their music.
Anthony, unlike so many of his counterparts, delivered ‘da goods’ in ample supply due in part to his big, baritone voice, his skillful, songwriting ability and his earnest heart for worship. Add to that unbeatable formula his musical training that’s audibly evident in his chorale, Group TherAPy, and it’s easy to understand why Anthony Brown is trending in the right direction. BlackGospel.com spoke with the man that’s making lots of noise these days about his marvelous new album, A Long Way From Sunday, his idiosyncrasies and his approach towards ministry.
Christopher Heron: Right off the top, I’d love to know where does Anthony Brown goes for vacation? Do you have a destination spot during summers?
Anthony Brown: You should know that Anthony Brown goes wherever there are rides. I am a roller coaster fanatic. So when its summer time and I have downtime, I’m looking for an amusement park to go to. I’ve got my entire family with me.
Christopher Heron: Speaking of chilling, do you binge-watch anything on TV or YouTube? Greenleaf, Power, anything comes to mind?
Anthony Brown: You know what’s funny, I have not watched TV like that for most of 2017. Back in the day, I would definitely be watching Scandal and Empire, but this year I’ve got so focused on other areas. All my friends are like “Anthony, you’ve got to see Greenleaf.” But I haven’t caught any series this year yet. The year isn’t over so maybe in the fall.
Christopher Heron: You obviously know a thing or two about great voices. If you could have the greatest soprano, the greatest alto, and the greatest tenor from any era lead on an Anthony Brown song, who would it be?
Anthony Brown: My go-to soprano voice would definitely be Karen Clark Sheard. That’s got to happen at some point. She’s on my radar. For my alto voice, you didn’t specify Gospel, so I’m going to say Brandy because I just love the tone and texture of her voice. For the tenor voice, you have to look at Daryl Coley, he’s one of the greatest voices of our time. I’m going to go back a little bit and say Donnie Hathaway because I just love the color of his voice and how he uses his instrument so he’s my tenor.
Christopher Heron: Let’s go straight to the project, A Long Way From Sunday. You speak about the journey in ministry that’s been filled with pain, hardship, and some days that were a long way from Sunday. What do you mean by that?
Anthony Brown: I think the most difficult part is really just staying true to oneself. People often times look at us as artists and think that we’re living on Hollywood Boulevard all day, every day and that’s not true. We screw up and more often than not. When I say Gospel artists I’m also talking about your pastors, your leaders in ministry, they’ re all struggling with issues in life. Nothing more difficult than when you have a reputation to upkeep, and you have a responsibility to share the life and love of Jesus Christ but at the same time you’re dealing with real life stuff.
So that’s where A Long Way From Sunday came from. The most difficult part is just being able to stay true to oneself, knowing that the good things that happen are the God’s things that happen. And the reality is that we’re all here trying to make it day by day getting back to Sunday, quote unquote. Which is just a symbolic expression. It’s not about the day for me, it’s just about the symbolism of getting back to that core relationship with Jesus Christ.
Christopher Heron: Your latest project stays true to your signature sound. It’s contemporary, it’s melodic, it’s millennial…but one thing that it’s not, it’s not another Praise & Worship album. Was that intentional?
Anthony Brown: First of all, I appreciate you noticing. I love Praise & Worship because I’m a Praise & Worshipper but for me, it’s not so much about the sound, as it is about a touching the heart. We tend to lean to the sound of the popular. But this is what I heard and I’ve always stayed true to what I heard God saying faithfully to me. And so I feel like it’s a win-win because I’ve been true to that.This project is not a Praise & Worship album, per se. There are songs on there that we’re ready to praise and worship on but the larger part is something that’s very different from the previous project.
I’m okay with the fact that it’s not like what you hear going on today. I believe that it’s meant to reach intentional people who love praise & worship, who love to join the church on Sunday morning, who live very real lives, who come with their family every once in a while to church and listen to some other styles of music, now and then, as well.There’s a part in the Bible that says, “we can become all things through our Christ who strengthens us.” So my objective and my goal was on the day when you’re not trying to put on your regular praise & worship song, but what you want to hear is something to keep you going, with that you arrive at A Long Way From Sunday.
Christopher Heron: My top 5 songs, in no particular order are I Got That, Glad, Everytime, Lost and Thank You. I know you love all the tracks on your album but is there a song that absolutely tickles you to death?
Anthony Brown: No. These songs are like my kids. When you tell me to pick which kid I like the most, it’s going to be difficult. Some days I just need to know that Everytime I call on the name of Jesus, something happens. Other days, I need the strength to know I Refuse to believe that none of my problems are bigger or greater or stronger than my God. So really every day I get results. So, that’s where I am right now.
Christopher Heron: I was thinking about the success of your hit song, Worth. Do you have a testimony or a funny story connected to that song?
Anthony Brown: I said this before a ton of times. One thing you should know about Anthony Brown is when God sings a song to me, whatever key I hear it in, that’s the key that I keep the song in. I forced myself to rise to the occasion of the song as opposed to trying to make the song fit my voice, and my color and my character. And so when I first started singing Worth, I didn’t realize how powerful it was until the key had to be major.
So for me, as a Baritone, it was knocking me towards my own ledge. I’ve tried a couple times to knock it down a few octaves, and the song changed so much about how I felt about the song. I had to force myself to learn how to sing it in the key I heard it originally. My first time singing it I couldn’t get through it, I just couldn’t sing it. Now, I can sing the song in my sleep but I couldn’t sing it at first because of the key it came in. But that’s the key I heard it in, so I wanted to make sure it stays true to that key.
Christopher Heron: I’m going to wrap it up with one final question. At the beginning of the album, you mention you’re a son, a brother, a loyal friend, and a believer. Are you more comfortable than ever in your calling as a minister of the Gospel?
Anthony Brown: My comfort level comes with the fact that I am more aware than ever of who I am in God. Everything that I feel is happening because of my relationship. It’s such a yielded position. A place where you tell God I only want to use the gift that You gave me. I’m open to however You want to use me. And He just blessed me and breathed upon it.So my position now and going forward is that I’m trying to point people to the One I’m following.
I always tell people, “Don’t follow me. I’m not trying to get you to follow me because if you follow me you’re going to see how often and how easy it is for me to stumble. I’m trying to get you to the person that I’m following.’’ That’s the spotlight, that’s where the credit goes, that’s where the spotlight should shine the brightest. If you follow Him, you won’t mess up, you won’t miss a beat. So that’s where my boldness and integrity comes from. Gospel music is about pointing people toward Jesus.
For information on Tyscot recording artist Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy and the new album, A Long Way From Sunday, visit the official website @ www.ajblive.com.