Marla Brown is the youngest daughter of legendary reggae singer Dennis “Crown Prince” Brown. Born in London to Dennis and wife Yvonne, she has four siblings who share their father’s initials – ‘D. Brown’ – Dinah, Daniel, Dennis and Deborah – the latter two use their middle names Jason and Marla professionally. Dennis spent a great deal of time in London, crafting some of his best works there and nurturing his young family.
Marla reminisces on growing up with Dennis, who she recalls as being a very loving and easy going father. “Mum was the disciplinarian in our household’ she chuckled – ‘dad was very easy going, loving, caring and sharing’. It is patently obvious that Marla has a very special bond with her father which lives on after his untimely passing when she was 12 years old. She tells the story of hearing the news of her father’s death and recounts calling him the day before; he was not well and resting, she decided to call the next day, but never got to speak to him again. She wipes away tears and during our conversation, it is again reinforced that Marla is all about continuing her father’s legacy, not just his music but his livity. She reveals that she and her siblings called themselves the Brown-Brady bunch; a reference to a 1970s popular American sitcom – The Brady Bunch! That this is a very tight-knit family is something else that is evident during the course of our chat on the grounds of the Bob Marley Museum at 56 Old Hope Road. It is fitting that we are having a conversation in that location, folks of my generation must now make way for the next and as we speak the Ghetto Youths Crew, the label spearheaded by Marley brothers Ziggy Stephen, Damion Jr. Gong and Julian (with label mates Wayne Wonder, Christopher Ellis and Black Am I), are rehearsing on the premises in preparation for another big February Reggae Month Celebration – Bob Marley’s Birthday celebration on February 6.
D. Brown’s legacy lives on and is strong in the Brown children, all of whom are musically inclined, Marla spent some years as a dancer before embarking on her fledgling singing career. She is in Jamaica to not only complete her own upcoming EP, but also to spearhead tributes to her father whose February 1 birthday is celebrated world-wide. Marla’s passion is to ensure that the youth, particularly those in London where Dennis spent some time, get to know the man and his vast catalog of music.
Talking with Marla you definitely understand that her mission is more than the music, drawing on her family life with parents and siblings, the theme comes up again and again – it’s all about LIVING IN LOVE. Something which Dennis Brown fans can definitely resonate with and draw a clear connection to many of his songs. Coming from an extremely tight knit family, one that has had to close ranks and absorb a huge void, has certainly rooted and grounded this young lady. With refreshing candor she is almost childlike in her fervent wish for the world to be one in which we all care about and love each other.
Poised on the verge of unimagined potential – there is already a buzz around Marla Brown who acquitted herself well at the Orange Street Tribute to her father held on Monday February 1 where a mic throw-down between Marla, General Trees and General Twitch was a definite crowd-pleaser. Debuting her original song “Here Comes the King” a tribute to her father. She tells the moving story of finding a rhythm in her music files and on listening and rewinding several times, she says she could swear that she heard her father’s voice singing. She canceled all appointments and wrote the lyrics in record time, encompassing some of her father’s song titles and other key phrases she remembers him using – what transpired is a love letter from daughter to father and is indeed a fitting tribute – not to a Crown Prince, but to a King – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qa8aBR4nxto
© Sheron Hamilton-Pearson