The Rod Brown Quartet
Rod Brown – Bio
I was born Roderick Christopher Brown in Florence, SC on May 12, 1977 to my father, Willie Clifton (Bubba) Brown, and mother, Marcella Lula Mae Lunn Brown. I started my musical training at the age of 4, under the guidance of my father, who was a self-taught electric guitarist, bassist, and songwriter. My father started me out on guitar, emphasizing the importance of reading music. He played mainly by ear, a valuable skill which I picked up from him later in my development.
Even at that early stage in my musical upbringing, it was evident to me that I possessed the discipline and desire to work at my instrument. I was destined to follow a similar path that my father took – being predominantly self-taught. As a youth, I was learning that advancing as a musician was laborious, yet rewarding. My zeal for the art would grow as I matured both musically and personally.
I started studying the alto saxophone in elementary school under the leadership of my band director and mentor, Mr. Leon O. Harvey, a gifted saxophonist in his own right. Going on to middle school, I auditioned and made South Carolina All-State Concert Band on alto saxophone; later in high school, I made it again on oboe. I first developed my affinity for jazz after hearing Charlie Parker on record. What an inspiration! I was privileged to participate in a jazz improv workshop with Jimmy McGriff and his band while I was a freshman in high school. He told me my sound could be my signature. I let his advice take root in me, and even today, people compliment my sound. I played in my school honor band, marching band, and in youth orchestras. I auditioned for and became a member of my school district’s program, District One’s Musically Exceptional (D.O.M.E), led by Laura Greenway. Being in this program allowed me to take jazz theory and improv classes. The scholarships offered by the program made it financially possible for me to attend summer band camps. It was in theory class at band camp that I first learned the term for my acute aural skills – perfect pitch. I also had opportunities to improvise in jazz ensemble at camp. It was then that I decided I wanted to make a career out of music.
After high school, I enrolled at North Greenville University as a music composition major. My first college experience taught me the value of making new contacts, being punctual, learning the value of effective communication, and developing time management skills – essential attributes of professionals. I then transferred to the University of South Carolina as a saxophone performance major. While there, I was privileged to take classical saxophone lessons from another great saxophonist, Roger Pemberton. Deciding to pursue a non-music degree that I would have to fall back on, I enrolled at Florence-Darlington Technical College, studying Chemical Engineering Technology. After earning an Associate’s degree there, I enrolled at Francis Marion University, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. Though my current job is related to this field, pursuing my musical career is what I am passionate about.