March 11, 2004
Icon Oscar Brown, Jr. Brings His Star Back to Lincoln
Brown, a 1949 graduate of the University, went on to become
one of Americas most acclaimed playwrights and versatile
entertainers. He was an early founder of The Jackson 5.
University, PA (www.lincoln.edu) Lincoln Universitythe
nations first Historically Black University welcomes
home one of its favorite sons when legendary entertainer Oscar
Brown, Jr. performs at the African American Museum, 701 Arch
Street, in Philadelphia, on March 16 at 6:30 p.m. Brown will
perform again as part of all-star jazz/blues combo
on March 17 at 4 p.m. at Lincolns Mary Dod Brown Memorial
Chapel as part of the Amos Scholarly Lecture Series.
1949 Lincoln graduate, is expected to perform with a Lincoln all-star
entertainment career spans five decades, initially gained acclaim
when he became the first commentator to broadcast news on Americas
largest minority with his daily Negro News Front
radio program in 1947. After meeting Robert Nemiroff, a manager
at a New York music-publishing firm and husband of Raisin in
the Sun playwright Lorraine Hansberry, Brown signed his first
recording contract with Columbia Records in 1958. Brown released
Sin and Soul in 1960, which would be the first of four
albums he would record for Columbia Records. Browns association
Columbia Records afforded him the chance to produce his first
musical, Kicks & Company. While Kicks & Company
never made it to Broadway, its debut in New York Citys Village
Vanguard, subsequent reviews and airing on NBCs Today
Show in 1960, propelled Brown into the national spotlight.
prominence as a playwright and singer allowed him to begin sharing
the stage with such musical greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, John
Coltrane and Nat Cannonball Adderly. Browns
one-man show, Oscar Brown, Jr. Entertains, was featured
in London, England in 1963. Entertainment critics hailed Brown
as a musical genius, the high priest of hip,
and all the great ones rolled into one. Prior to Oscar
Brown Entertains, Brown hosted the television series, Jazz
Scene USA, which originated from Los Angeles. It was
during the taping of the television show that Brown met his future
wife, singer/dancer Jean Pace.
of his musical, Joy 66, brought Brown and Pace to Chicago
where the couple wrote three more musicals, The Summer in the
City, Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow and Opportunity Please
Knock. The play was produced in 1967 and was inspired by a
notorious Chicago street gang who showcased their talent on CBS
The Smothers Brothers Show. Brown and Paces work
with the gang brought the couple to Gary, Indiana to conduct a
summer youth project. Among their early discoveries were The Jackson
Five, who won the youth projects talent show, and actor/singer
Avery Brooks, who has starred on several television shows.
1970s, Brown worked as an artist-in-residence by directing his
works at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Hunter College
in New York, and Malcolm X College in Chicago. By 1975, Brown
had completed the recording of his 10th album and had re-staged
and starred in the hit production Evolution of the Blues
which was featured in San Francisco. Later that year, Oscar was
shown in a (CBS) WBBM-TV special, Oscar Brown is Back in Town,
which won him two local Emmy Awards.
out the decade, Oscar hosted the 13-week PBS program From Jump
Street: The Story of Black Music, and was a regular actor
on the television series, Brewster Place, starring Oprah
Winfrey. He also appeared in several other acting roles, including
episodes of Roc and the PBS special, Zora Is My Name,
written by his friend and noted actress Ruby Dee.
composed several hundred songs and over a dozen full-length theater
pieces. Some critics have said, that Mr. Brown's works were "ahead
of his time," that his music or views are "too outspoken,"
and that as a result; he has not received the recognition due
to past and present political beliefs. No matter what the criticism
or circumstances, it has not prevented the artist from becoming
a prolific composer, nor from adding to his own extraordinary
outpouring of poems, songs, and sonnets nor his powerful performances.
Scholarly Lecture Series was founded by descendants of Reverend
Thomas Hunter Amos, founder and president of Harbison College
in Abbeville, S.C. His father, Thomas Henry Amos, was a member
of Lincoln Universitys first graduating class in 1859. Thomas
Henry Amos died as a missionary in Liberia, Africa. According
to Amos Lecture Series Committee, Rev. Thomas Hunter Amos
descendants established the lecture series to stimulate
the minds of the Lincoln family in pursuit of a liberal arts education,
with emphasis on the theological, philosophical, classical, historical
and scientific disciplines.
southern Chester County, Pennsylvania, Lincoln University is nationally
recognized as a major producer of African Americans with undergraduate
degrees in the physical sciences (biology, chemistry and physics);
computer and informational sciences; biological and life sciences.
The University is in the midst of a yearlong celebration of its
sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary. Lincoln will hold 150th
anniversary galas this spring in Washington, D.C. (April 17) and
New York City (May 6). For more information on Lincoln, please
visit our Web site at www.lincoln.edu.
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