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Dear Editor,

I’m in India doing a bit of research on Hindustani Classical Music. Your fine piece on Anthony Brown was passed on to me.

Perhaps you were aware that Anthony was the eldest son of my mother’s sister. Growing up in Milwaukee, we were, as kids, inseparable – more like brothers than first cousins. We both attended Rufus King High School as a part of the same graduation class.

He lured me to California to pursue my academic and music career while he was yet a student at Diablo Valley College. I obliged and ended up at San Francisco State majoring in music as a voice student. Both of our mothers, by the way, were musically inclined as was our grandmother who was a concert artist – vocalist. Anthony had absolutely no musical talent at all – none. I repeat – none – though you couldn’t convince him of that glaring fact.
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After we both returned to Wisconsin, he lured me to Madison and following in the footsteps of our cousin Al Jarreau, Anthony lobbied hard for us to reach out to Al with the idea of me being his opening act as a stepping stone to launching my own career. Anthony assigned himself the role of being my manager – can’t recall if we ever negotiated this notion. What sticks out is his demand for a 50-50 split on all financial gains. I do recall telling him that he “must be out of his mind” for suggesting such. I’m sure he would have made a fine one – not sure he ever totally forgave though me for saying “no.” My dream was to launch my career as an opera singer in Sweden.

In 1980, Anthony introduced me to then UW-Madison men’s basketball coach Bill Cofield who in turn reached out to UW Band Director Maestro Mike LeKrone. I had rendered the “National Anthem” on the west coach for a few events including a home game by the Oakland A’s baseball team. From here, my longstanding love affair with rendering the ‘anthem’ began. Anthony initially made that happen.

It was not be widely known that out of all the professional adventures he pursued, his real dream was to be a personal representative of an NBA player. He spent many years attempting to give this idea some traction.

Those who know us both closely, are aware that Anthony got a kick of out deliberately embarrassing and teasing me at every turn, be it at a family gathering or at a public or private setting. Often, the subject matter centered on his athleticism compared to mine which according to him did not exist. In such cases, I took the opportunity to remind him that it was “I” who taught him how to tie a Windsor knot for his professional attire.

Among my many cherished memories of Dr. ALB was his obvious joy and peace when behind the wheel of his vintage Benz convertible (he spent the better part of a week trying to convince me to purchase one he had spotted in Madison). His many loves included shrimp, Speed Queen BBQ from Milwaukee, movies, golf and attending social events. By the way, I caved on the Benz thing and whenever I drive it, my thoughts most often turn to him and his courageous battle and will to live. And though we never openly expressed it, we were each other’s biggest fans.

Peace,
Dr. Jonathan Overby

Written by Jonathan Overby

Jonathan Overby

Dr. Jonathan L. Overby is an ethnomusicologist, radio host, producer, concert artist, Wameru Chief and an Edgewood College Post-Doctoral Fellow.

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