Entertainment Theater

Echo Brown, Younger Grownup Creator and Performer, Dies at 39

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Echo Brown, a late blooming storyteller who mined her life to create a one-woman present about Black feminine identification and two autobiographical younger grownup novels through which she used magical realism to assist convey her actuality, died on Sept. 16 in Cleveland. She was 39.

Her loss of life, at a hospital, was confirmed by her greatest buddy, Cathy Mao, who mentioned that the trigger had not but been decided. However she mentioned by telephone that Ms. Brown had acquired a prognosis of lupus round 2015, which finally induced kidney failure.

A reside kidney donor had been cleared for a transplant that was anticipated to happen early subsequent yr.

Ms. Brown, who grew up in poverty in Cleveland and graduated from Dartmouth Faculty, had no skilled stage expertise when her serio-comic present, “Black Virgins Are Not for Hipsters,” made its debut in 2015. It instructed her autobiographical story, although a number of voices, about relationship a white hipster, together with questioning what his response to her darkish pores and skin might be, and the intercourse, love, despair and childhood trauma she skilled.

“It’s very revealing and I felt very susceptible doing it,” she instructed The Oakland Tribune in 2015, including, “It’s as in case you get onstage and share your deepest, darkest secrets and techniques. Placing my sexuality on the market in entrance of individuals could make me really feel very uncovered.”

The present was efficiently staged in theaters within the Bay Space; she additionally carried out it in Chicago, Cleveland, Dublin and Berlin.

Robert Hurwitt, the theater critic for The San Francisco Chronicle, referred to as Ms. Brown “an immediately enticing and fascinating performer” who “has us consuming out of her hand properly earlier than she will get everybody up and dancing as an instance (with a bit of assist from Beyoncé) why Black girls shouldn’t dance with white males till at the very least after marriage.”

And, the novelist and quick story author Alice Walker said on her blog in 2016, “What I can say is that not since early Whoopi Goldberg and early and late Anna Deavere Smith have I been so moved by a performer’s narrative.”

When “Black Virgins” was talked about in a profile of Ms. Brown within the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine in 2017, Jessica Anderson, an editor at Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Little, Brown Books for Younger Readers, took discover.

“I reached out blindly to see if she would flip her consideration to writing for a younger grownup viewers,” Ms. Anderson mentioned in a telephone interview. “She wasn’t conversant in younger grownup or kids’s literature. I despatched her some books and she or he had a direct sense of what her storytelling ought to be.”

The end result was “Black Woman Limitless” (2020), a novel that Ms. Brown tells by means of the lens of her younger self as a wizard who offers with a hearth in her household’s cramped condo, her first kiss, her brother’s incarceration, her sexual assault and her mom’s overdose.

“Brown’s biggest reward is evoking intimacy,” Karen Valby wrote in her evaluate in The New York Instances, “and as she delicately however firmly snatches the reader’s consideration, we’re allowed to see this woman of multitudes and her neighborhood of contradictions in full and particular element.”

Ms. Brown’s second e book was “The Chosen One: A First-Technology Ivy League Odyssey” (2022), a coming-of-age story that makes use of supernatural parts like twisting portals on partitions to depict her disorienting and demanding experiences at Dartmouth as a Black girl on a predominantly white campus.

Publishers Weekly praised Ms. Brown for the best way she ruminated on her “independence, worry of failure, and psychological well being” with “vigor alongside themes of therapeutic, forgiveness, and the human must be and really feel liked.”

Echo Distinctive Ladadrian Brown was born on April 10, 1984, in Cleveland. She was raised by her mom, April Brown, and her stepfather, Edward Trueitt, whom she thought to be her father. Her father, Edward Littlejohn, was not in her life. She lived for some time throughout highschool with considered one of her lecturers.

Ms. Brown thought that Dartmouth, with its magnificence and status, would signify a “promised land” to her and be “the start of my changing into,” she said in a TEDx talk in 2017.

However early on, she heard voices from a dashing truck shout the N-word at her.

“They weren’t college students, they in all probability weren’t affiliated with Dartmouth in any method, but it surely was sufficient to shatter me,” she mentioned. The incident taught her a lesson. “There are not any promised lands on this world for marginalized individuals, these of us who fall exterior the class of regular,” she added.

She graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s diploma in political science — she was the primary faculty graduate in her household — and was employed as an investigator with the Civilian Criticism Assessment Board, the impartial oversight company of the New York Metropolis Police Division. She left after two years, believing that “we didn’t have the facility to do the work that was mandatory,” she instructed the Dartmouth Alumni Journal.

She labored as a authorized secretary, and briefly attended the Columbia Journalism College. She turned depressed, began to check yoga and meditation, and moved to Oakland in 2011. Whereas there, she was employed as a program supervisor at Challenge Day, a bunch that holds workshops at colleges geared toward constructing bonds amongst youngsters.

Her job included telling college students about her life, which helped her discover her voice.

“I discovered that I may drop individuals into emotion and pull them out with humor,” she mentioned within the Dartmouth journal article. “That’s the place I realized I used to be an excellent storyteller and questioned, ‘The place can I am going to inform extra tales?’”

She started taking courses in solo performing with David Ford on the Marsh Theater in San Francisco. At first, she wrote comedian scenes, then created extra critical ones.

“It was clear that she was somebody who was prepared for this, and she or he had an easy time getting the phrases off the pages as a performer,” Mr. Ford mentioned by phone. “There was one thing miraculous about her.”

Along with her mom and stepfather, Ms. Brown is survived by her brother, Edward. Her brother, Demetrius, died in 2020.

Ms. Brown’s newest undertaking was a collaboration with the actor, producer and director Tyler Perry on a novel, “A Jazzman’s Blues.” It’s based mostly on a 2022 Netflix movie of the identical title that Mr. Perry directed from a script that he wrote in 1995, about an ill-fated romance between youngsters (the younger man turns into a jazz musician) in rural Georgia that takes place largely within the late Thirties and ’40s. It’s to be printed early subsequent yr.

Ms. Anderson mentioned that the undertaking took place as a result of, as Ms. Brown obtained sicker, “It was too energy-consuming for her to work on her personal materials. So she was searching for a extra inventive partnership and this took place by means of her agent.”