When Brianna Crowell approached the stage at UDetroit Cafe in Detroit’s historic Harmonie Park region recently, the relatively shy young woman whom this writer had spoken with just moments before her performance admitted she was just the slightest bit anxious. Anxious about performing, but anxious to get on the stage and show us what she was working with. And within just a few short bars, the voice that was mature beyond its years and expressing the sort of real heart felt passion seldom heard anymore, she’d worked the audience into a frenzy and we implored her to give us more. The Detroit-born ingenue exemplifies a style reminiscent of classic and contemporary greats — it was like Chaka Khan meets Estelle and we will never be the same. Rolling out spoke with Crowell, who while in college aspired to be an obstetrician/gynecologist or a midwife, about her change of heart and her gift. –roz edward
What set you on this path?
I have been performing since I was a teen when I started with the Mosaic Youth Theater. … I was shy and didn’t want to be in the spotlight, but people heard me sing and encouraged me to perform, and I figured I had to come out of this shy box. In college I was encouraged to sing at events and that inspired me to take the next step, and here I am now recording with Inferno and working on my first CD.
Where do you see your music taking you?
I see myself making it big like Beyoncé and Rihanna and being in their position. … My style is an R&B-pop sound, but I can pretty much sing any genre of music. I listen to everybody. I love Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Beyoncé and you’ll even catch me listening to a little bit of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga — from a performance standpoint. I go back to the Temptations, and the Jackson 5 even. I love it all.
Advice to emerging artists …
Do not give up. It will be hard, but keep pushing. It will be hard and you have to learn to accept constructive criticism, but eliminate all of the negativity, because you really don’t need the distraction.