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Justina Lee Brown: Music, Love & Unity

Q&A with West Africa singer/songwriter Justina Lee Brown – living her life and telling her real story through her music
 

“Activism is an act we all should carry every day until every human is in peace with love in this beautiful world of ours. When I have a chance to change something to become better, I take the chance and that is my inspiration. (Doing and not just complain about anything.)”

Her sound is interpreted with funky soul blues and a fusion of her Afroroots. On stage Justina is a power house and a force of greatness that is truly authentic. During her performances she brings the real magic of music to life, packed with her identity and uniqueness. Justina Lee Brown released her new album “Black and White Feeling” (2019) which focuses on her truth, Passion and her Life as it is now. All composition, lyrics and arrangement of all songs on this album is by Justina Lee Brown together with Nic Niedermann, guitarist, composer and producer from Switzerland. Justina Lee Brown has been Touring the world over a decade now, discovering and finding her true purpose in life with her MUSIC. Justina lives for ” Love, Unity in Equal Rights for all Humans “. Her passion to help children and less privilege survive is unstoppable.

The singing started off as a way to kill time on the street as a child while helping her mother sell “ice water” in the Udo market in Lagos. People rapidly started to notice her and gave out tips to encourage Justina to continue. Knowing her voice brought happiness to passing strangers filled her with joy. A sense of purpose appeared in Justina, she saw an escape out of her misery into a new and alluring world. Through thick and thin, music kept her company whether it was a small melody playing in her head or her emotions taking control of the lyrics like ink flowing on paper. When admiring her ascension onto the stage from Nigeria to Europe, you may ask yourself what the key to her success is. The answer from Justina herself: “Honesty, Truthfulness, and Kindness are the food every human soul needs.”. These inspiring words show not only the kind-hearted person she is, but they are also to be taken as advice to follow your dreams through selflessness and creativity.

Inspired by every genre, Justina Lee Brown’s work takes us on a musical trip down a road of jazz and pop to afro high life music and funky soul-blues. Along with these various stops, her gospel roots often emerge.

With six albums to her name, the latest being “Black and White Feeling” which presents the emotional blend of her journeys and experiences. Her powerful and dynamic voice accompanied by her moving and uplifting shows is the reason Justina and her band were nominated for the finale of The European Blues Challenge while representing Switzerland. This new step is quite an impressive achievement, especially considering the fact that it will be the first time an African Nigerian Woman is representing Switzerland in this challenge. In 2019, Justina won the “Women in entertainment Award” in London for “Best African Female Voice”. She and her band then decided to take their music to a deeper international setting by going on tour in 2020 in the USA where they were a big hit.

As a child, Justina felt lost and without a real home, today she is proud to state that music is her new home. Through a musical mixture of love, life and emotion emerge Justina Lee Brown.

 

Justina Lee Brown, a singer/songwriter from west Africa is a survival child from the ghetto streets of Lagos, Nigeria, living her life and telling her real story through her music. Justina is one of Nigeria’s most promising new talents. She started singing as a child (in church choirs amongst others). Her star qualities were first officially recognized when she emerged as the first runner-up at the Nokia First Chance music competition in Nigeria in 2007 this was fast followed with bold steps at the industry when she dropped her first ever single which formally brought her to limelight in 2008 A newcomer to many people, Justina is an old pro when it comes to being a live performer. Internationally, she has graced stages in Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, UK and Kenya (in Switzerland she also fronts a cover band called The United Nations) and has developed into a charismatic, confident live performer who amazes audiences with her boundless energy and her creativity. Live and on record, her powerful and versatile voice perfectly complements her music, a modern and original mix of Soul and Rhythm & Blues, not forgetting a generous helping of her strong stage performance and presence.

Interview by Michael Limnios           Special Thanks: Jesse Finkelstein (BRI)

How has the Soul & Gospel Blues music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

A lot. It has healed my heart from all the pains I carry inside of me. And it has made me to see the world with openness!

How do you describe your music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

My music is a combination of everything from “Funky Soul, Blues, Jazz in all with my Afro Fusion” which is my very identity. I receive my inspiration from God and all He lays in my heart to say.

How important was/is activism and music in your life? How does activism affect your mood and inspiration?

Activism is an ack we all should carry everyday until every human is in peace with love in these beautiful world of ours. When I have a chance to change something to become better, I take the chance and that is my inspiration. (Doing and not just complain about anything.)

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in music paths?

Honestly. I have come to see how in honest we are many times as humans. We just say and do things because we feel that’s what they want to hear not because it’s the truth or not. We’re just entertaining and feeding each other with negativity many times. My lessons I have learnt is HONESTY!

“Music is the similarity.  Anything with sound in it is similar to the other, But the feeling it carries is what is the differentiates. And the people that listens is who makes the similarities and differences in it. But it is quite different from folks/traditional blues with the power and actions in it. And also, it’s African dynamic elements.” (Justina Lee Brown, 2019 / Photo by Jean Marc Efienne)

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

(laughs)… more of dancing and being young on stage. And also, being closer to my family, because the music I did in the past was in my country.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Truth be told more not just entertainment.

Make an account of the case of soul/blues in Nigeria. What are the similarities between local folk/traditional music & blues?

Music is the similarity. Anything with sound in it is similar to the other, But the feeling it carries is what is the differentiates. And the people that listens is who makes the similarities and differences in it. But it is quite different from folks/traditional blues with the power and actions in it. And also, it’s African dynamic elements.

What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

Challenging, and it could be better. And being an African woman is more harder than you can imagine.

What is the impact of music on the racial, spiritual and socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

It shouldn’t be judged or condemned. It should be accepted just as it is. Because whatever we send out to people, there’s always a massage.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

A beautiful island with so beautiful nature and lovely people being happy with each other.

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