Getting to Know Suzie Brown

Suzie Brown is a singer-songwriter who is intimately familiar with all things having to do with broken hearts.  She’s a cardiologist.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Suzie has been playing gigs on the east coast for several  years and has showcased at NERFA (North East Regional Folk Alliance) and has won or been nominated for many awards.  This year her newest record, Almost There, was nominated for the Independent Music Award Best Folk / Singer-Songwriter album of 2014.

Suzie Brown is one of 24 Emerging Artists chosen for this year’s Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.  The Emerging Artist showcase is always one of the highlights of the festival. The musicians are chosen by a three-member jury and are given the opportunity to perform two songs (not to exceed ten minutes).  The audience votes for their favorites and three or four acts are asked to return to the main stage the following year.

To learn more about Suzie, visit her website.

Check out Suzie’s official video for “Almost There.”

Here’s a glimpse of Suzie singing live!

Suzie by Shervin Lainez

This has been a big year for you—moving to Nashville, starting a new job, and having a baby!   If you had to describe the past year in a word or two, what would you say?

Whoa Nelly!

In addition to all of the above, your CD, Almost There, was nominated for the Best Folk / Singer-Songwriter album of the year by the Independent Music Awards!  That must have been pretty exciting!  As a songwriter, what does it mean to you to be recognized by your peers and by music critics alike?

It feels great!  In general I’d say it’s dangerous ground to depend on external validation for happiness as a songwriter, but it sure feels good when you get it :).

How would you compare your two CDs?  Did you approach the recording in different ways?  

Heartstrings was recorded in the more traditional way – drums, guitar, and bass were recorded first followed by overdubs of lots of other instruments and vocals.  It sounds more polished and clean.  I really wanted Almost There to have a raw, live, almost imperfect feel.  I realized that’s what I love about my favorite albums – Wood Brothers, Patty Griffin, old Bonnie Raitt, not to mention old soul and country albums.  Those imperfections make you feel things.   So we cut the whole album live as a band – including my vocals.  We finished all 11 songs in 7 days.  I’m really proud of that.

What was it like working with Oliver Wood on Almost There?

I can’t say enough good things about working with Oliver.  He is the consummate professional.  He is creative, kind, focused, humble, light-hearted, and open-minded.  We had a blast.

Many people are surprised to find out that you are a cardiologist as well as a singer-songwriter?  Were you into songwriter before medical school?

I’ve always loved to sing, and bought a guitar after college/before medical school.  I taught myself a bunch of covers and played in my apartment as much as I could given my crazy schedule, and ventured out to a few open mikes around town.  I didn’t start writing songs until years later, when I was finishing my cardiology training.

Do you find that actual work of writing songs is an outlet for you to unwind after a day of working in a fast-paced medical center?

For me it’s my space to feel vulnerable and honest and emotional. It’s so easy to get really far away from your feelings the chaos of day-to-day life. Music is the way I reconnect with myself.

Your husband, Scot Sax, is a Grammy winner for his songwriting.  Do you ever work together or is he not allowed to listen until you’re happy with each song?

At first we really kept our musical worlds separate – I was too nervous to write with him.  He was so accomplished and I was such a (relative) novice.  He’s a fast and instinctive writer and I tend to be slower and more pensive.  He is more of a pop writer, and I’m more folky.  I definitely didn’t play him any of my songs until they were completely finished.  But over the years we’ve collaborated more and more, and I’ve loved it.  We co-wrote 3 songs on Almost There and have written at least a dozen more since then.

Has motherhood given you a whole new range of topics to write and sing about?  

So far I’m still too sleep deprived!

Do you have a dream gig that you would like to happen one of these days?

Newport Folk Festival.  That’s the dream.

Photo by Shervin Lainez

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