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Phredley Brown — the Southfield-bred musical director for Bruno Mars — has performed at the Grammy's multiple times, played the Super Bowl show, and has shared the stage with top-notch artists like Pharrell Williams, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Rihanna.

 

Now, he is coming back to his hometown to perform his own material. The Dec. 28 concert will benefit the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, and Brown will be joined by his band, his sister and Detroit recording artist Alesha Nicole, and drummer Paul Loose.

This is the first time in five years that Brown will be performing with his own band in Detroit. He just returned from a two-year tour with Bruno Mars, and while on break, he's been writing, producing, and recording songs for his debut album, which he says will be a mix between soul, rock and adult contemporary music.

"One of the main reasons I wanted to come home and do this show is to put a bunch of material I have written up on its feet and see how it feels live and see what kind of response I will get," says Brown via phone from L.A., where he currently resides. "The songs have been written over the course of the tour so I'm excited for people to hear them and I can't think of a better place to do this than at home."

Musical upbringing

Music has always been a part of Brown's life and he's been playing since the age of 3. It was at that age that he asked his mother, who at the time was a private music teacher, to stop teaching other students and to focus on training him.

"She taught during the day at the Bussey Center and would teach lessons at night, so I would see her spending this one-on-one time with kids, and I was like she should be spending this one-on-one time teaching me. She was very gracious that she never told me no, so I just developed this ability to pick up whatever instrument I could find and make it work for me," says Brown.

He grew up playing horns, and while attending the Roeper School in Birmingham, he played the trombone in the jazz band. The academic side of music, however, didn't fit Brown, so after attending the University of Michigan for five weeks, he left and decided to pursue music full time.

His musical education came mostly from playing in local bands in metro Detroit as well as his job as a dueling pianist, where he sat at a piano at a bar and people gave him requests to play. Brown says he had to know how to play everything from AC/DC to Elton John.

Big break

After playing in bands for about several years, Brown relocated to California in 2009 and continued gigging and building connections which eventually led to his encounter with Bruno Mars in 2010. A mutual friend introduced Brown to Mars when he found out that Mars needed a bass player for one of his shows.

That gig led to Brown playing with Mars’ band on multiple occasions. Eventually he became a member of the band, and a month after joining he was hired as Mars’ musical director.

Brown came into the band at a prime time just as Mars first album “Doo-Wops & Hooligans,” was released. "When I joined, we were playing in front of 200-400 people, sometimes bars, clubs, and little theaters and within six months we grew to playing in arenas," says Brown.

Of all of the amazing experiences Brown has had as a musician, performing at the Super Bowl earlier this year was the icing on the cake. Mars' performance on the Super Bowl currently holds the record for the most viewed halftime performance in history.

"I will never forget standing on the Super Bowl stage and playing ‘Treasure’ — a song I helped write and record," Brown says.

Coming home this month will be another life-changing experience for Brown, who says he is really looking forward to giving an intimate performance for all of his loved ones to enjoy.

"When I come home, I barely have enough time to catch up with friends and family, so it’s a great opportunity for me to be able to see people who haven't been able to catch me on TV or on tour," he says.

By Veronica Grandison

The details: Phredley Brown will be performing at the Jazz Café on Sunday, December 28 at 8p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased on the Jazz Café website: http://www.jazzcafedetroit.com.

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