New York City-born Rachel Brown blends elements of her roots (Ethiopian, Bermudian, and Southern) with a childhood spent listening to soul greats like Sam Cooke and Smokey Robinson, as well as other Motown, R&B, and 90s pop and hip hop. A recipient of the prestigious ASCAP Foundation Robert Allen Award for Songwriting as well as the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Abe Olman Scholarship Award for Excellence in Songwriting, Brown’s distinctive sound has earned her praise and attention from Vanity Fair to The New Yorker and a legion of devoted fans.
Graduating with honors from Harvard College, where she studied filmmaking, the self-taught singer-songwriter developed her passion for music in her spare time, performing at open mic nights and building up her confidence to perform at larger events and eventually headline her own shows, including a 13-month weekly residency where her audiences regularly included celebrities from Jay Z and Beyoncé to Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese.
One of Brown’s early songs, an infectious charmer called “Bumblebee,” helped launch her career when she released it on her 2012 debut EP Building Castles. The track was soon licensed for a diamond ring commercial, which Jay Leno featured in a monologue on The Tonight Show. Jaden Smith tweeted that it was his new favorite song, and it prompted Glamour to hail her “sensually soulful vocals” and DailyCandy to declare that “the hype is justified.”
In 2015, Brown released her follow-up EP The Band, which was met with glowing reviews, with The New Yorker describing her voice as possessing “the walnut burr of Erykah Badu and the lightness of Norah Jones” and InStyle Magazine hailing her “the next big thing.” Her stripped down cover of Whitney Houston’s classic “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” became a viral hit, catching the attention of the late singer’s estate and over 14 million Spotify streams.
In 2018, Brown released her first Holiday EP, Brown Paper Packages.