Natchez musician Maggie Brown records first album

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

Natchez musician Maggie Brown sees something of herself in those words, the beginning stanza of &uot;Looking Back,&uot; a song she wrote and now has recorded.

Brown may not have been thinking about her career when she penned those words. Perhaps it was more personal than that. However, today the plaintive tones of that song belie a new-found joy and satisfaction the popular songstress exudes as she prepares to promote her first album.

Music has been a part of her life since she was a small child, playing the piano at age 3, borrowing her brother’s guitar and teaching herself to play it at age 12 and starting her own band at 14.

Email newsletter signup

However, she resisted making music her career for a number of years, taking instead a corporate path.

&uot;I tried not to let it be a part of my life, but it nagged at me,&uot; she said. &uot;I was an area manager for McRae’s. I was probably 30 years old when I realized I couldn’t say no to music.&uot;

She attended a concert. It moved her. She faced reality. &uot;I said to myself, ‘I just can’t not do this anymore.’&uot;

For the past decade, Brown has warmed Natchez-area and other regional audiences with her smooth, soulful voice, part country and part blues, accompanying herself on guitar with uncomplicated, easy-listening melodies, most her own compositions.

Recording her songs was only a dream until Baton Rouge producer Jeff Ford heard Brown sing at a concert. &uot;He offered to have me catalog my songs at no charge. I did that at his studio in Baton Rouge,&uot; Brown said.

The producer and musician kept in touch. &uot;He thought someone would snap me up,&uot; Brown said. &uot;When that didn’t happen, he came to me to say they’d like to help me put out an album.&uot;

That album now is complete &045;&045; 12 songs, 11 of which are her own. The 12th song is by Grammy Award-winning songwriter Wayne Kirkpatrick. Brown is backed on the album by some of the best musicians in Nashville.

&uot;We did not skimp on the players. They were great. And the best part is that I’m a nobody to them, and you would expect some ego from them. But they were so nice,&uot; Brown said.

Ford, her producer and agent, said he was especially pleased at the reaction of the Nashville musicians to the new recording artist.

&uot;Maggie was joined on the record by some of the best session musicians in Nashville,&uot; he said &uot;The interesting part is that they were as excited and enthusiastic about playing her music as we were to have them

play with her. It’s been a very exciting and rewarding project to be a part of and one that the folks of Natchez will be proud of as well.&uot;

Brown spent a week in Nashville for the recording sessions and then another three- to four-day stretch to finish. Promotional copies now are going out to some selected radio stations.

&uot;It’s finished but not in production, and we’re finalizing the art work for the cover,&uot; Brown said.

Two photographers came to Natchez to photograph her. &uot;They photographed mementoes around my house, too. Natchez is the town where I live, after all. It’s the town that I love.&uot;

Working in Natchez at clubs and festivals has been fertile ground in which to grow, Brown said. &uot;I began to get positive feedback. I realized I could be good. I began to get self-confidence, and I began to write.&uot;

She grew up in the Lake St. John, La., area. Both parents were musical, but her mother was the one who pushed her, Brown said. &uot;Dad worked at IP for about 40 years, I guess. Mom was a hairdresser. She thought I had talent and that I could be good if I really tried. She wouldn’t let it be. She wanted it so bad for me.&uot;

Looking toward an April release of her album, she knows there will be some hectic weeks of travel and promotion. Still, she puts family first and will regulate her schedule to make sure she can keep the family first.

With her two children and one stepchild and her husband, Steve Oliveaux, she has a happy, mostly normal kind of family life, she said.

She kept the name of her first husband and father of her two children, Greg Brown. &uot;I asked him whether he minded if I kept Brown, and he didn’t,&uot; she said. &uot;Maggie Brown is a good stage name.&uot;

Her husband, Steve, was a high school sweetheart and the first drummer in her first band. &uot;Steve has encouraged me in making the album,&uot; she said. &uot;This is not new to him. The producer met with both of us about the album.&uot;

A media marketing company will handle the distribution of the album. &uot;I’ll do a tour of radio stations to try to get them to promote it,&uot; she said. &uot;It will be in Wal-Mart as well. And the Web site is going to be important,;

Brown said the album has no formal name at this time. She hopes Natchez people will help her to name it.

&uot;I’ve grown so much because of opportunities to play around Natchez,&uot; she said. &uot;But I’m playing mostly out of town right now.&uot;

Still, one can look for her on many a Sunday night at the Under-the-Hill Saloon. &uot;Sometimes I’ll just show up there to play,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s good to be able to sing at home.&uot;