Arts Desk

“Uptown” Janice Brown, Jazz Vocalist, Dies at Age 55

Janice BrownYesterday news became public that Janice Frink Brown, a journalist and educator who also sang on D.C. jazz bandstands under the name of "Uptown" Janice Brown, had passed away on Monday at Washington Hospital Center. She was 55 years old.

Brown's death had been unknown even to many of her associates on the D.C. jazz scene until Thursday, when her obituary was published in her hometown newspaper, the Wilmington (North Carolina) Star-News. Cause of death was not given; however, Brown had been known to suffer increasingly severe upper respiratory problems.

Born and raised in Southport, N.C., Brown began to play clarinet at 10 years old. As she matured, she gravitated toward singing, eventually becoming a protege of legendary D.C. jazz vocalist Ronnie Wells. She became a much-loved jazz vocalist in the area, known for her wit and warmth as well as her exceptional timing. She was a regular performer at Monday Night Jazz at Vicino's Restaurant in Silver Spring, Md., and a fixture on the annual Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. She also released a CD, Two Shades of Brown.

Brown was also a respected journalist, serving for many years as a reporter and editor for the Washington Afro-American newspaper. But she was probably better known for her efforts as a broadcaster: Brown was a veteran radio personality, including a long stint as on-air staffer for WPFW-FM radio; in addition, she taught public speaking and broadcasting at the University of the District of Columbia (where she also took classes in the Jazz Studies program). She held a Master's degree in communication from American University.

Brown's funeral will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at Mount Carmel AME Church in Southport, N.C.

Image via WPFW

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  • Deborah Harrison

    Janice you will be missed by your Aggie family we gather on Saturday in your honor. Words cannot express our sense of loss you took us by storm in life. Your death came as a quiet storm as well Rest in Eternal Peace!!!! Eric and Maritza Frazier, Keith and Celeste Lucas and Deborah Harrison

  • http://www.emmamaegallery.com Sandra Butler-Truesdale

    OMG, I am just shocked. I was hoping somehow that I didn't read your post correctly. I talked to Janice last month when her daughter was playing at the Kennedy Center. I did some PR for them and it worked out really well. Plus I used to book shows for her. I kept wanting say I must be dreaming or something, surely not my girl, Janice. Well, she has joined the heavenly choir and I can't complain about that.

  • Maggie Linton

    Loved Janice. She was full of life and love and very proud Mother. Glass always half full or better and willing to share her laughter and talent. My prayers go out for her family and those of us who loved her. Janice will be missed. Amen for the heavenly choir. I know she's there. She will be missed.

  • TG

    Janice, I will miss you; as will every one of us who came in contact with you. You were a great friend, and one of the kindest people; your smile and your sense of humor were the greatest things about you, imho.

    Blessed Be, Janice...we love you.

  • CARL DESHAZIOR

    JANICE AND I WERE GREAT FRIENDS MY NAME IS CARL DESHAZIOR AKA DOC BELLE THE RADIO JOCK.I WENT TO HER HOME GOING SERVICE JUST THE OTHER DAY.THERE, WE HAD THE CHANCE MEET THE EARTHLY CREATORS OF JANICE HER MOM AND DAD AND IT WAS THEN IT ALL CAME TOGETHER WHY JANICE WAS JANICE, AND HER REMAINDING SIBLINGS.SIMPLY STATED THE FIRST FAMILY OF NORTH CAROLINA,MOST KIND.I AM ASSITING IN PUTTING TOGETHER
    JB'MEMORIAL SERVICES FOR METRO WASHINGTON PROJECTED DATE SEPT.22,2010 6-TO-9PM ON THIS DATE.I WILL COME BACK TO THIS SITE AND GIVE FUTHER DETAILS LATER.MY EMAIL ADDRESS IS CDESHAZIOR@YAHOO.COM AND MY CELL IS 571-243-9289.IN CLOSING JANICE LEE FRINK BROWN MY FRIEND WAS ONE OF THE MOST TALENTED PEOPLE I HAVE EVER KNOWN,,BAR NONE.PEACE JB DOC HAS YOUR WORK TO DO.GOD BLESS YOU.

  • Sarah DeShazior

    A wonderful, warm, funny, smart and talented person. Now singing among the angels and telling jokes. We will miss you so much. Our prayers and thoughts to your daughter and family. We will always cherish the last time we saw you perform in Silver Spring, MD. Rest in peace, JB. Love, Sarah DeShazior

  • Rudy Brewington

    Very sorry to hear this news out here in Las Vegas.

    RIP, Janice.

    Maggie: Please call about arrangements at (301) 442-4885.

  • B. R. ” BJ Sports” Jackson

    I am stricken and sadden by the passing of my friend Janice Brown. Janice and I met at WPFW back n 2000 where I did sports and she did traffic. She was JB and I was BJ. We were last together in June to see Joel Osteen at Nationaks Park. I texted her on July 29th, to go walking, since we both like to walk. She texted me right back to tell me she was sick with puenmonia. I responded with let me know if you need anything; her reply, thanks, the meds are kicking in and I feel a little better and that my family will be here next week. My reply ...I will keep you in prayer, get better so I can laugh again. Her last text... Will do and thanks for the prayer. Hopefully I'll be laughing again soon. Take care and thanks again. ( i keep re-reading our dialogue). On August 21st;, I said to myself, it's time to check in on JB. I sent this message to her phone...it's been awhile. How are you doing? Less than 15 minutes later I received a voice message on my
    phone from Edgar that JB was no longer with us. I am still in shocked. My prayers go out to
    her daughter Whirney, her Mother and family, along with her many friends and fans. It's been tough! Thanks for allowing me to share.

  • Carl DeShazior

    A memorial service in celebration of the life of our good friend Janice Brown will be held on Thurs., September 27, 2012 at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, 3500 R Street, NW, Washington, DC, from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm.

    Please come out and help us memorialize the life and legacy of Janice. In tribute to Janice, please wear a "touch of red".

    Please contact me if you have questions:
    Carl DeShazior, Friend & Spokesperson
    571-243-9289

  • Carl DeShazior

    We have an update on the memorial service for Janice. The date of the service had been changed to Sat., Oct. 13 at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, 3500 R St., Washington, DC. The time is 7:00 - 9:00 pm. We are asking everyone to bring photos and other anecdotes of your experiences with Janice. Also, in her memory, please wear a " touch of red".

    For more info, please contact:
    Carl DeShazior, Friend & Family Spokesperson
    571-243-9289
    cdeshazior@yahoo.com

  • http://www.chadcarter.ws Chad Carter

    Janice,

    My girl...Uptown Janice Brown! Janice, I miss you and will never forget you. You were truly a bright light. I'm grateful that we were friends! I was looking forward to making sure Tyler Perry met you because you sure enough would have been a shoe-in with any of his productions. Janice, you were soooo funny and a joy to be around. We will keep the music playing and the laughter going as well. I will always remember your joyful spirit! You are missed but never forgotten! Vicino's will forever have that Uptown Janice Brown vibe that we loved so much! Rest in peace Janice, rest in peace.

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