Oscar Brown, Jr. worked with many musicians and performing artists through his sixty plus years in show business. OBJ encouraged his family to work with him-he was a firm believer in nepotism. Here are some of those with whom OBJ collaborated. The composer of hundreds of songs, however, OBJ was not fluent with music notation, therefore, he would rely on others to notate his musical ideas. In addition to those featured below, others who worked closely with OBJ were: Norman Curtis, Floyd Morrison, Bobby Bryant, Charles Wright, Aaron Graves, Ed Wilburn, Theodis Rodgers, Miguel de la Cerna, Miyuto Correa.
JEAN PACE BROWN, born Edwin Jean Pace (1936-2016)
Singer | Dancer | Actress | Designer | Choreographer
The dynamic musical team of Oscar Brown Jr. and Jean Pace began in 1965. The duo starred in the Off-Broadway hit musicals written by Oscar, “Joy 66” and “Joy 69.” Joy received outstanding critical and social acclaim “Joy,” and became one of their biggest hits. They recorded the musical score from the play. Jean was the creative genius behind the costumes, the choreography, as well as being Co-Director with Oscar Brown Jr.
Throughout their careers, the two starred on television and variety shows, including Steve Allen, Flip Wilson, Johnny Carson, and the Smothers Brothers. They also were committed to improving our communities and were instrumental in training, teaching, and mentoring at-risk youth through the arts. Their strong belief in the value of using the arts as an agent-of-change helped to foster a global view in many young men and women and open their minds and options to a world outside of the confines of their local neighborhoods.
During Jean’s work with Chicago’s youth, her mentoring skills and loving concern for young people was made even richer by the creative talents she brought to the table. Successful careers of many of her mentees attest to the positive nurturing Jean and Oscar provided to many youths. During the nationwide tour of the youth show, OPPORTUNITY PLEASE KNOCK, written by her husband Oscar Brown Jr., the lives of teenage girls’ and boys’ were transformed. Some of them who were on a negative life path, speak of how blessed they are to have had Jean and Oscar in their lives during those formative years
OSCAR BROWN, III
affectionately known as "BoBo" (1956 - 1996)
Oscar "Bobo" Brown, III was born the youngest son of Oscar Brown Jr., and the only son of his second wife, Maxine Fleming Brown. Bobo provided the inspiration for his father's famous song lyric to “Dat Dere,” by Bobby Timmons.
He was one of Chicago's most gifted and well-loved jazz musicians. Bo was a precocious musician, who began working professionally in his teens. One of Chicago’s most versatile artists, Bobo's work with his father and musical family, represented but one facet of his artistry. He teamed up with urban poet, Keith M. Kelley to form the Funky Wordsmyths, with whom he recorded a CD: "Spoken Anthologees," and appeared on a series of popular McDonald's TV commercials; He worked with avant-gardists, such as: Kelan Phil Cohran, Don Moye's Sun Percussion Summit, and the Sun Ra Arkestra. Bo Brown was an A-list bassist and served as Musical Director for many stage productions. He established himself as a Chicago star, with a rising national reputation.
Two of OBJ's musicals include Bobo's collaboration on the score: In De Beginnin' and Great Nitty Gritty. One of the final productions he and his father collaborated on, was a critically acclaimed two-man show: It's About Time, which premiered at Lincoln Center, in New York.
In August, 1996, at the age of 39, Oscar Brown, III was tragically killed by a drunk driver in an automobile accident on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.
LUIZ HENRIQUE (1938 - 1985)
Brazilian Guitarist, Vocalist & Composer
"Happiness is only the feeling you have when you are free to enjoy your own achievements. I found this feeling in great quantity while working with Luiz Henrique. Through the music we composed together when we met in NY in 1965 we won each other's respect. This mutual respect and the
friendship we had were the foundation of our music"
-Oscar Brown Jr.
SIVUCA born Severino Dias de Oliveria (1930 - 2006)
Brazilian Multi-Instrumentalist, Vocalist & Composer
His professional career began at age 15, in Pernambuco, where he recorded his first album with Humberto Teixeira (1950), leading to work in radio and television in Rio de Janeiro. He toured Europe in 1958 with Os Brasileiros.
Sivuca had been performing with Mariam Makeba and Harry Belafonte, when Jean and Oscar hooked up with him to join the cast of JOY in San Fransisco. A phenomenal multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Sivuca may be heard on the Original Cast album released in 1970 on RCA Victor. His distinct style included matching his vocal skating along with his playing of the accordion or guitar.
Oscar was among the first to introduce Brazilian artists into the U.S. Jazz music industry.
affectionately known as "Koco" (1957 - 2018)
Calvin "Koco" Brunson was certainly one of the greatest piano accompanists of our time. He started as a young prodigy at the tender age of 15, playing professionally in engagements with Oscar Brown, Jr., having forged a musical friendship with Oscar “Bobo” Brown, III, while attending Kenwood High School. Most who knew Koco were aware of the close musical connection they shared for years-until Bobo’s untimely death in 1996. Koco and Bobo playing together was powerful and forged a musical partnership that has the Brown’s and Brunson's connected to this day and forever, as family.
Koco and OBJ worked together on stage and composing music throughout several decades. A good portion of OBJ’s music catalog includes songs which are cherished collaborations between the two. The score to OBJ’s musical JOURNEY THROUGH FOREVER is co-written by Koco. IN DE BEGINNIN’ is another stage play that Koco and Bobo contributed to the score.
Koco was working with Africa & Maggie, developing their vocal arrangements & shows to highlight the OBJ Archive Project, when he suddenly died from heart failure at the age of 62. Calvin has gone much too soon, but his impact will never be forgotten.