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Ron Brown

Inducted: 2023
(February 28th, 1952 – April 14, 2022)

Ron Brown
was born in Austin, Texas on February 28th, 1952, and passed away on April 14, 2022 leaving Austin and the greater world jazz community richer for the his contributions. His father was a saxophonist and music teacher who encouraged Ron to start playing music at age 5. Ron attended Austin High School where he studied music under Austin Jazz Society Hall of Fame inductee, Corkey Robinson. Ron went on to graduate with a music degree from the University of Texas where he was a member of the UT Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dick Goodwin in the early 1970’s. During his college days he also began his professional career playing, composing and recording with such popular Austin bands as Zilker Sunday, Steam Heat and the first all-black soul band to play the Armadillo World Headquarters, Freedom Express.

Ron’s musical path took him through many styles of music. His first big break came when he joined The Duke Ellington Orchestra under Mercer Ellington. This career changing event led to road tours with Natalie Cole, Diana Ross, Anita Baker, Whitney Houston and other national acts. In addition to the tours, there were numerous sessions and TV show performances with Stevie Wonder, Joe Sample, Aretha Franklin and Al Jarreau.  Ron and his wife, Barbara to move from Austin to LA where they settled and raised three daughters, Devin, Erin and Astin. Ron’s agent was able to get him high profile exposure such as appearing in magazines and billboards across the nation as the face of the Kool Jazz Festival and acting jobs in commercials and an appearance on Star Trek.

While touring Ron began recreational drug use and while playing an extended engagement in Las Vegas with Diana Ross, soon found himself struggling with addiction checking in and out of treatment centers over four years. With encouragement from family and friends, in 1991, he turned his life around through religion and began to study Japanese shortly after embracing his new spiritual life, even winning a speech contest in Little Tokyo, a Japanese American community in downtown LA. He also formed Ron Brown Ministries in 1999 while on tour in Tokyo, Japan.

After years of being a sideman, Brown embarked on a solo career in the smooth jazz genre with Doc Powell who produced his “From My Eyes Only” CD on Warner Bros./Discovery Records in 1997. He went on to establish his own record label, Mankind Records, producing the critically acclaimed CD, “Urban Dreams” by the Urban Jazz Network, which highlighted with great collaborations with Kirk Whalum, Jonathan Butler, Kenny Garrett, Mulgrew Miller and others, blending Jazz, R&B, Hip Hop and Gospel. Mixed in with his travels to Japan to further his spiritual ministry, and producing projects for other artists, Ron played some notable TV gigs playing in the horn section of Kirk Franklin’s band during Kirk’s performance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and in the showband for the CBS Tribute to Ray Charles where he played with such notables as Elton John and Al Green.

Ron always called Austin his home and made frequent visits throughout his career to perform at Austin’s premier jazz clubs: Baxter’s, Top of the Marc, Sullivan’s and the Elephant Room as well as Riverbend Church, and he always visited and played for his beloved Aunt Bennie’s church.




Phone: (512) 327-JAZZ (5299)

Address: P.O. Box 170141

Austin, TX 78717

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