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Alison Brown Biography

Alison Brown Biography

Alison Brown is an American banjo player and guitarist known for a soft nylon-string banjo sound. Brown learned to play guitar at eight and banjo at ten. When she was twelve, she met fiddler Stuart Duncan. In the summer of 1978, Brown traveled across the country with Duncan and his father, playing festivals and contests. She won first place at the Canadian National Banjo Championship, which helped her land a one-night gig at the Grand Ole Opry. In 1980, Brown went to Harvard College, where she studied history and literature. After graduating from Harvard, she earned an MBA from UCLA. Brown worked for two years with Smith Barney in San Francisco, and then took a break to pursue her music interests. In 1987, Alison Krauss asked Brown to join her band, Union Station. Brown spent three years with Krauss. In 1990, she moved to Tennessee, and was named International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the Year in 1991. In 1992, Brown became the band leader for Michelle Shocked. This experience led Brown to merge bluegrass with jazz and folk idioms, in a manner similar to those of Béla Fleck and David Grisman. In the early 1990s, Brown and her husband, bass player Garry West, started their own record label, Small World Music. This company eventually led to the launch of Compass Records in 1995. Stolen Moments, 2005, in Brown’s estimation, is her most musically successful record to date; “For the first time, I feel like I’ve created a true hybrid sound that suggests its influences – bluegrass, jazz, celtic music – but when taken as a whole isn’t any one of these things". Her last album, Evergreen is a 8 song collection, and contains some of the band's favorite tunes from their Winter's Eve holiday program.

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