Vanessa Brown (born 24 October 1983), known professionally as VV Brown (sometimes stylised as V V Brown), is a British indie pop singer-songwriter, model and record producer.
Early life and career:
Vanessa Brown was born in Northampton, England. She is the eldest of six siblings; her mother is Jamaican and her father is Puerto Rican. She attended Overstone Park School near Northampton, which her parents own and work in. Brown learned to play the piano, developed her vocals and took classical and jazz piano lessons at a musical arts school. Brown was given her name "VV" from her peers as an MC nickname when she attended her middle school. Her love for hip hop and artists such as J Dilla and Q-Tip still exists. Brown studied violin at the age of 9 but gave it up because she found she was better at the piano and trumpet. She completed her grade 8 jazz trumpet at the age of 16 and went on to play in jazz bands up to the age of 21. Growing up, VV listened to jazz artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie. Brown earned four "A" grade A-Levels, studying at Kingsthorpe Upper School (now Kingsthorpe Community College) a year early; she was offered places to study law at five top UK universities including Oxford, King's College London, LSE and York. She declined the offers in order to follow a career in music. VV Brown was first offered a deal by Gut Records when she was 14 but due to educational commitments she decided so as to finish her studies. She was then offered a deal by Danny Simms, the manager and mogul associated with Bob Marley. Brown declined, to finish her studies. She joined a punk band at 15 and had the opportunity to tour Japan. Subsequently, P. Diddy attempted to sign her to his record label Bad Boy Records.
2002-06: Back to the Music:
At 18, Brown was invited to an open audition for VH1 divas by friends and was stopped outside the venue by an executive from London Records. Brown was offered a development deal by London records. The development soon came to an end and, at 19, Brown was offered a deal by Polydor records in the UK and A&M records in the US. She left her deal with Polydor and A&M in 2006 with one single and only an unofficial promotional EP, Back to the Music.
2007-09: Travelling like the Light:
Brown moved back to London and began performing in bars and clubs around London. She was rediscovered by executive Darcus Beese and signed to Island Records. Travelling Like the Light was then recorded in 2007-08.
Brown said that most of the lyrics on the album (such as those from the singles "Crying Blood," "Leave!" and "Shark In the Water") are about a failed affair Brown endured. The album saw the release of four singles: "Crying Blood", "Leave!", "Shark in the Water" and "Game Over". "Shark in the Water" charted in both UK, French and USA charts. It received gold status in America and France in 2009.
2011-present: The Playground, Lollipops & Politics cancellation and Samson & Delilah:
Prior to the mastering of Brown's second album, Lollipops & Politics, a free mixtape, The Playground, was released through Soundcloud to show some of the ideas and the raw process whilst making the new album.
On 14 September 2011, Brown announced that the first single from Lollipops & Politics would be called "Children", featuring Chiddy of Chiddy Bang. The song hit US iTunes on 20 September 2011. On 4 October 2011, Brown confirmed the title of her second album as Lollipops & Politics, as well as releasing the full tracklist.
On her Facebook account, while premiering the official music video for "Children", Brown announced that her second album, Lollipops & Politics, would be released on 7 February 2012 in the US; however, even if she said in interviews that she wanted to release "Famous" as the second single, the album release was initially postponed to 2013, and on 16 November 2012, Brown posted on her Facebook page that Lollipops and Politics would not after all be released since she "didn't feel it was right as an artist". A new album, recorded in London with Dave Okumu from The Invisible, and Pierre-Marie Maulini aka STAL, ex-member of M83, will be released in its place. However, the track "10 Ft. Tall", used in a recent Weight Watchers advertising campaign, which was to be included on Lollipops & Politics, is to be released as a non-album single. The new album, Samson & Delilah, was released in September 2013. The video of the first single, "Samson", premiered on 20 May.
Brown played many festivals and gigs in 2008. Brown was invited by Damon Albarn to play African Express tour. She sang with Fela Kuti's son Femi. Brown toured with Ladyhawke and The Ting Tings. She has been confirmed for Camden Crawl, The Great Escape, Evolution Music, Camp Bestival, Supersonic, and Turning Point festivals while awaiting confirmation on several others.
In March 2009 Brown played for the Teenage Cancer Trust event at the Royal Albert Hall. In June she played the Glastonbury Festival. Throughout the summer she played every major festival including Glastonbury, where she was the only new artist to perform on the main stage. She state: " it was a massive achievement in my life to do such a big stage at such a early point in my career." VV Brown has also toured with The Script, Ida Maria and collaborated with artists including Babyshambles, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Chipmunk, N-Dubz, Reverend and The Makers, Q-Tip and many more. VV Brown did a sold-out tour throughout the UK in 2008.
In 2009 Brown performed with Grace Jones and Sly and Robbie for the Island 50th event at Shepherds Bush Empire. This was a showcase of new and old talent on the label. Brown supported Swedish electronic band Little Dragon on the US leg of their tour in 2010. and was an opening act for Pink in her upcoming UK leg of her summer Carnival Tour in 2010 . VV Brown's 2009 tour was an electric mix of music, fashion and entertainment with covers such as "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon, and one of her opening acts is actually her sister Jay Brown and up-and-coming band The Stow. V V Brown toured as an opening act for Maroon 5 in 2010; this was her most extensive North American tour yet. She also did a small sold out club headline tour in the states to capacities of 500 and towards the end of the year was invited to perform for the National Grammy Committee in Los Angeles, California. In 2010, Brown also performed at the America festival SXSW at the British Embassy as well as a secondary gig with AOL. The AOL performance was a great success and led to huge support from the AOL team throughout Browns career. Brown was requested by Q-Tip to perform with him at the Jack Daniel event in Los Angeles in June 2010, which led to a further writing collaboration and friendship. Due to the success Brown had in France and the association with the French/Moroccan market Brown went on to perform a sold-out show in Morocco for 20,000 people. VV Brown has also been a part of many high-end corporate gigs such as Cartier, private jet companies, phone brands and fashion houses.
Brown performed her first show at the South Bank with Annie Lennox, Paloma Faith and Kate Nash. Her 30-minute consisted of a quartet. In 2011, she performed a duet with the French singer Melissa NKonda.
The most distinctive aspect of Brown's style is her trademark retro fringe, nearly always rolled into a flattop with the rest of her hair left long but lately she has experimented with other styles moving away from her trademark look: "I'm excited about the second album because fashion wise it's a chance to grow."
In November 2008 VV Brown took part in the Naomi Campbell charity fashion show at which she walked with models such as Tyson Beckford and Daisy Lowe and many others.
On 20 February 2009 Brown also modelled and performed at the Ashish fashion for London Fashion Week.
VV Brown has been confirmed as one of the new faces of Marks & Spencer, starring in adverts alongside Twiggy, Lisa Snowdon, Ana Beatriz Barros and Dannii Minogue Her contract was renewed and she was confirmed as the face of Marks and Spencers alongside Danni, Twiggy, Ana and Lisa in 2011. "As a black woman I hope I can do whatever I can to contribute to Blackness being more commercialized. We have so many parts of the media that focus on one type of beauty and I hope my little contribution adds to this."
Brown, who stands at 5 ft 11 in, was signed to Next Model Management after a chance meeting with one of their agents on a transatlantic flight.
On 27 January 2009 Brown did her first shoot for Vogue magazine, in the April/May issue. On 24 January 2012 Brown's online vintage clothing store, called www.vvvintage.com, went live.
Brown has been in several international magazines with numerous spreads such as i-D, Paper, LOVE, Elle, Cosmopolitan, American Vogue, Teen Vogue, British Vogue and more. She has worked with top photographers such as Ranki,n and continues to experiment with her love of photography and fashion.
Fashion is a sense of expression and a sense of who you are and what you want to be.
Brown has been involved in various charities such as the Teenage Cancer Trust, Oxfam, NSPCC, Animal Rights, Recycling Foundation and the Bottle Top campaign and has done various works contributing to poverty in Africa and Fair trade. She also made a video for Global Cool.
Brown has also been involved in the Rockcorps shows which allows teenagers to work for their community in aid for a ticket to see a concert. Brown took part in both the London Rockcorps shows and did work in Paris with French young teenagers with a following concert.
VV Brown has started a new sustainable fashion business called www.vvvintage.com where 10% of profits go the Oxfam charity.
November 2010, V V Brown was featured on the MTV series World of Jenks. The documentary series followed her as she tried to break into the U.S. music scene.
Her music has also been synched in several American TV shows and movies across America, including CSI, Sex and The City, Ugly Betty, The Back Up Plan and Lesbian Vampire Killers.
VV Brown had her TV debut in the UK on Jools Holland in 2008 and also appeared on other TV shows such as the Alan Carr Show, The Album Chart Show, T4, GMTV.
She made her French TV debut on Taratata in 2009 and the following day saw the album debut at number 1 on the digital chart. It led to other TV shows such as Le Grand Journal and other huge French TV shows, which solidified a strong success for Brown in this territory.
VV Brown is currently in talks for doing a voice-over for a huge French animation movie. "I am absolutely excited about this. This is something that has been on my tick list for quite some time."
Brown landed two huge advertisement deals with the French bank "BNP" and a very reputable French furniture company, whereby her song "Leave" was used for two years, contributing to her general awareness and success in France.
Brown's American TV debut happened on the Rachael Ray show, leading to several other TV shows including David Letterman, Carson Daly and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Brown also performed on the BET show Black Girls Rock! in 2010, alongside artists such as Keyshia Cole, Jill Scott, Keri Hilson and Mary J. Blige. Brown states: "I found this a great opportunity as a black woman to be positive about other black women in music and the general black community."
In February 2011 Brown's song "Travelling Like the Light" was synched in the new BT advert in the UK, as well as landing a huge two-year synch deal on Canadian television for a car advertisement. Despite a lack of enormous awareness internationally Brown remains to have a consistent career in synch ability and has been used in many advertisements, films, fashion shows and art exhibitions.
The song "L.O.V.E." is currently being used in commercials for Unilever's Best Foods/Hellmann's Mayonnaise in the United States.
Brown is also one of the women to represent Marks & Spencer clothing alongside Dannii Minogue and other various women. She has appeared in their latest TV advertisements.
Brown, for the second time in her career, appeared on the show Later... with Jools Holland in October 2013. She performed live, two singles, "Faith" and "The Apple", from her new album Samson & Delilah, released September 2013. She also performed a live duet with Jools Holland, he on piano, Brown singing a version of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by the Eurythmics.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license