MACEO, Ky.(8/23/14) ― What do the Glasgow Fire Department, the Everly Brothers, Bob Dylan, John Denver and even Engelbert Humperdinck all have in common?
The answer is the Marty Brown connection.
Brown has been writing and singing his songs professionally since the early 90s. But his love of music began pretty much at birth. He learned guitar from his father at age nine in his hometown of Maceo, Kentucky, with a population of just over four hundred. Marty Brown says that even in today's fast paced internet world, he's still from the country, and he likes it that way.
"I would think of songs while I was a young boy cutting tobacco," Brown told SurfKY News. "Then I started working in a grocery store in Owensboro. I wrote songs on the grocery bags during my breaks. I've written songs all my life. I love it."
Twenty five plus years after getting his first big break, Marty Brown is still writing, singing, and going viral. His week one audition on the 2013 season of 'America's Got Talent' now has a million hits and climbing on Youtube.
"When I play, it's just me, my guitar, and my songs," Brown says.
Brown's 'America's Got Talent' performance of Bob Dylan's little known 'Make You Feel My Love nearly brought hard to please judges Howard Stern and Howie Mandel to tears. Mandel summed the performance up well.
"You have taught us all something tonight. Never judge a book by its cover," Mandel said.
Brown didn't win the competition but he said he still feels like a winner.
"I may have lost on the show," Brown said. "But I really feel like I won. I got a new start. I got back up."
With some ups and downs along the way, the combination of writing and performing his music have worked well for Brown.
As a newcomer in the music business, Brown played at the grand opening of the Owensboro RiverPark Center with the late John Denver. Denver died in a tragic plane crash in 1997 at age 57.
"Denver was a great musician and great man," Brown said. "It was a dream come true for me."
Brown had another dream come true moment when he played with two of his Kentucky musical heroes, Don and Phil Everly.
"That was another case where I lost, but I won," Brown said. "I entered the talent competition for the Everly Brothers Homecoming Concert in Central City," Brown said. "I didn't win. But what I learned from that is that I had to get back up. I compare my life to 'Rocky II'. People often forget Rocky Balboa didn't win in the first movie. He lost. He was down on the mat. But in 'Rocky II' he got back up, and won. That's what I try to do."
After losing in the Everly Brothers talent competition, Brown went on to Nashville and ended up with a contract at MCA Records. The following year, he was back on stage in Central City, performing with the Everly Brothers, John Prine, and the Kentucky Headhunters.
"God did it all," Brown says. "There's no way this would have happened otherwise."
Brown can now add the name of Engelbert Humperdinck to the list of singers who have recorded his songs.
"I got a call at home and they said that Engelbert Humperdinck wanted to record my song called, 'There's No Song Like A Slow Song'."
Brown said, ‘yes,’ and the song is now available on line. Humperdinck's version of 'Release Me' spent more than six weeks at the number one spot in 1967. It was a huge crossover hit on all radio formats, including country. Maybe history will repeat itself again.
With fans from 8 to 80, largely due to the internet and the boost from 'America's Got Talent', life is good for Marty Brown, but very busy.
Brown's wife, Shellie Rachel Brown, is also his manager and also a hard working mother with a full time job as a teacher in Bowling Green.
Marty does the singing. Shellie handles the complex world of tour dates, promotions, and the internet.
"You have to be online now," Brown said. "But long before the internet exploded, Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, was a big fan of my music," Brown remembers. "Back in the early 90s, you got your music in the music department at Walmart. That has all changed now."
Brown says he has mixed emotions about that change, but loves the chance to perform for new fans of all ages.
"I go with the flow, but I still like music I can hold in my hands, and read about the people that wrote it," Brown said.
The Brown family has also now learned how to self-produce videos. Marty's newest song and video, titled "Whatever Makes You Smile" is online now, and dedicated to America's firefighters and other first responders.
"The song and video are in honor of all the firefighters and other first responders," Brown said. "They are out there 24/7 to protect us. We filmed it at the Glasgow Fire Department. I went there and just loved the whole look of it, the lighting, the fire engines and most of all the people. It's an emotional video, about a fireman whose young son has cancer. But he has to put his son's life in the hands of God and the doctors. It all works out for the best."
Anyone with a TV or internet access, knows that Marty Brown did not "win" on 'America's Got Talent' in 2013.
"I didn't win on the show," Brown said. "But I've been so busy since that show, it's been a real blessing anyway. You have to get back up."
Brown's is up and out on the road now, with current tour dates taking him from Connecticut to Texas, and beyond and at the Kentucky State Fair today.
To keep up with Brown, go to: www.martybrownmusic.com
Photo by Paul McRee
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