The Howard University graduate began singing in the congregation of her father’s church in Jersey City, N.J. By 11, she was a featured soloist. Brown continued singing the songs of Mahalia Jackson at area churches until she discovered her first jazz album, a Billie Holiday recording.
Holiday’s continuing influence can be heard throughout "Secrets of the Soul." Brown delivers an impressive cover of "Fine and Mellow." In addition, she sings in an intimate, understated way that turns lyrics into confessions.
The CD features a few up-tempo numbers, including fresh versions of "What a Difference a Day Makes" and "Our Love is Here to Stay," but Brown is most effective on the CD’s ballads, which highlight her storytelling abilities.
Brown is accompanied on the CD by Glenn Douglas, piano and keyboards; Michael Bowie, James King and Walter Cosby, bass; Nassar Abadey, Jeffrey Neal and Aaron Walker, drums; Tom Williams, trumpet; and Kwesi Brown, congas.
"Secrets of the Soul" serves as a solid introduction to Brown.