When you think about a family of traveling musicians you might think of the Jackson 5, the Osmond's and the Partridge family.
The 5 Browns are three sisters and two brothers that are classically trained pianists that perform together. They have released three albums with their latest coming in October of 2007 called Browns in Blue.
The siblings, Ryan, Melody, Gregory, Deondra and Desirae, range in age from 23 to 30. Gregory Brown says it all started as something for the kids to do when they were young.
“My mom started us at a really young age with the piano, we all started at the age of three,” Gregory said. “And you know at that point it was just kind of to give us something to do as little kids. I guess it just kind of snowballed and we all just got more and more serious into it and eventually we ended up going to school at Juilliard in New York, all of us were there for a period of time.”
Eventually the whole family even the parents moved from Utah to New York to go to school at Juilliard. Deondra Brown.
“It was kind of fun for us actually to have each other around, to be able to have that built in support, people that understand exactly what you’re going through we felt really lucky,” Deondra Brown said.
Melody Brown says some of their fellow students thought they were nuts.
“I think for the most part we made other peoples college experience really weird,” Melody said. “Because eventually there was four of us in the college at one point and Ryan was in the precollege. So they would see us all wondering the halls together sometimes so I think it made people say whoa that’s kind of crazy.”
The national exposure started in 2002 when People magazine dubbed them the “Fab Five” and they were featured on Oprah and 60 minutes. In 2005, The 5 Browns signed with Sony BMG Masterworks and released their first album.
All three of their albums have approached the top of the classical charts. Gregory Brown says the success was hard to fathom.
“It was almost unreal you know the five of us were hoping that if we could get our degree at Juilliard that maybe we could get a good teaching job or something like that,” Gregory said. “Of course our number one dream was always to perform, but opportunities are very few and far between and so when we started getting the exposure like that and those good things started to happen to use, it was really unreal.”
Desirae Brown says they were surprised that their ideas actually worked.
“You know you’re in meetings with record labels and managers and you’re like hey we have this idea that we could maybe get in touch with the younger generation with classical music if we marketed it this way, if we played the music we love, if we could talk to audiences,” Desirae said.
“You have these ideas and to see those all work out and to see people connecting to it and see people really getting enjoyment from the music and kids getting excited about concerts and their own practicing is really fulfilling for us.”
Deondra Brown says their performance isn’t like others.
“We have obviously five pianos on state for the whole concert, but we don’t play entirely on five pianos for the whole time,” Deondra said. “We try to shake it up a little bit so we have several five piano pieces, and some two piano pieces and some solos and even multiple people on one piano. So we try to keep the concert moving quickly, changing it up all the time so it’s not always the same format.”
The 5 Browns perform Wenesday night at 7:30 at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center as part of the Marshall Artists Series.