Joyce Brown (1920 – 2015) – is regarded as both the first Black woman to conduct any Broadway show (in 1965) and to open a new show as conductor (1971). Her contribution was phenomenal: to music and music education; to building up Black community on Broadway; and to making opportunities for Black musicians at every stage of their career was phenomenal. Yet when she died in 2015, there was no obituary that recounted her achievements on the pages of a national newspaper. To date, she has no Wikipedia page, and Google turns up only a few articles that lay out her achievements.
This article builds on the little that is known about her by searching through digitised newspaper records of her work. It lays out Brown’s career alongside her own words, retraced from the many interviews she did during her career.Continue reading “‘I have a reservoir that hasn’t been tapped’: uncovering the groundbreaking work of Joyce Brown”