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V V Brown

V V Brown's ever-developing body of work spans progressive R&B to left-field pop with soul, gospel, funk, new wave, reggae, and more in the mix of her vast sound. The Northampton native got her solo career off the ground after she co-wrote the Pussycat Dolls' "I Don't Need a Man" and Sugababes' "Denial," assertive hits that Brown would soon follow with the Top 40 U.K. entry "Shark in the Water" (2009), her first as a headliner. Brown was back four years after the release of her clever, throwback-styled Travelling Like the Light with the darker and more electronic-oriented Samson & Delilah (2013), issued on her own YOY label. After she went further out with the crowdfunded Glitch (2015), Brown put music on hold to focus on parenthood and other pursuits such as journalism, activism, and authoring of a self-published children's book. Am I British Yet? (2023) marked her return to music with upfront and provocative material examining her Black British identity. Born in Northampton, Vanessa Brown was raised by her Jamaican mother and Puerto Rican father, the founders of Overstone Park School. The nickname V V was given to her in middle school in response to the display of her rapping skills. Instead of studying law at one of the numerous universities that sought her enrollment, Brown devoted herself to music, a passion developed throughout her childhood and teenage years as she learned violin, piano, and trumpet, and performed in jazz bands. Discovered at an open audition for a VH1 Divas concert, Brown was signed to a development deal at the age of 18. A year later, she joined the Polydor roster and in 2005 she debuted as Vanessa Brown with Back to the Music, a promotional EP featuring the hybrid pop-R&B bounce of "Whipped," a collaboration with Ron Fair. The following year, the Pussycat Dolls reached number seven on the U.K. pop chart with "I Don't Need a Man," Brown's first hit as a writer. This led to collaborations with Sugababes highlighted by the 2008 number 15 hit "Denial." Snapped up by a third label, Island, Brown -- now going by V V Brown -- reappeared with Travelling Like the Light. Informed by a relationship that went sour, Travelling Like the Light boasted four singles, the most successful of which was "Shark in the Water," a number 34 U.K. hit that also charted in the U.S., where it gained support from Capitol, peaking at number 67 on the Billboard Hot 100. Brown recorded Lollipops & Politics, intended for a 2012 -- and then a 2013 -- release date, but it was scrapped in favor of the completely different Samson & Delilah, recorded with the likes of the Invisible's Dave Okumu (a contributor to Róisín Murphy's Overpowered and Jessie Ware's Devotion) and Pierre-Marie "STAL" Maulini (onetime touring member of M83). The album was released on Brown's YOY label in October 2013, charting at number 158 with "The Apple" and the Kele Okereke collaboration "Faith" among the singles. Glitch, Brown's third distinctive album, followed in September 2015 as the result of working closely with new associate James Leggett. The set further separated Brown from the trappings of mainstream pop. Brown subsequently took an extended break from the music industry. She relocated to the countryside, raised her children, and wrote numerous articles for The Guardian on issues such as personal development, misogyny, and racism, particularly in regard to the music industry. In addition, she wrote the children's book Lily and the Magic Comb, self-published in 2020. In March 2023, she issued her first single in almost eight years, "Black British," a funk-fueled people's anthem name-checking James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. A handful of additional previews preceded the October release of Am I British Yet?, Brown's message-oriented fourth album.
© Andy Kellman /TiVo


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