Medill freshman releases album of songs, poetry on iTunes


Source: Ying Dai

Medill freshman Debbie-Marie Brown is performing during her album release party. She released her album “Mindful Isolation,” which reflects the transformation she has gone through since college, on iTunes on Jan. 1.

Catherine Kim, Assistant A&E Editor

Medill freshman Debbie-Marie Brown said she never envisioned herself releasing an album and becoming a “real musician.”

After all, music was just a personal outlet she used to express her spirituality and cope with depression during high school, she said. Yet on Jan. 21, she found herself singing into a microphone in front of a crowd of her friends for her album release party.

“Mindful Isolation,” her first album, went live on iTunes on Jan. 1. Since then, the album has been made available on Spotify and Apple Music. It includes seven original songs, which Brown wrote after coming to college, and poems she wrote before attending Northwestern. The album focuses on her transition from high school to college and from the East Coast to the Midwest.

“Her transition, by the end of the album just coming to college and becoming a more hopeful and more mature version of herself, I relate to (it) a lot,” said Communication freshman Freddy Mauricio, a friend of Brown.

Music had always been an essential part of Brown’s life and she always found it healing because it helped her articulate how she feels and make sense of herself, she said.

When Brown came to college, Medill freshman Slade Warnken challenged Brown to start making her own music. As members of the same Peer Adviser group, they two bonded over their mutual interest in music. Warnken said that after he discovered Brown could play the guitar and sing, he convinced her to start writing songs and helped her write the first song and main track of Brown’s album, “Come My Way.”

Brown said she felt she could not move on to new work before finding a way to save the songs she made because she didn’t want to forget them. That’s what made her finally decide to release an album, she said.

But when she realized the poor audio quality of her recordings from the basement of Sigma Alpha Iota, a music fraternity, she said she started contacting studios back home in Connecticut. After a failed $50 recording session and two other producers cancelled on her. Brown said she was close to giving up.

“I didn’t even want to do it anymore, but I had already planned my album release party,” she said. “I had to keep going. People were expecting me to release something soon.”

Out of desperation, she called a professional producer from her church who charges $350 a session. Brown told him she only had $250 to record an album and only four days left until she had to return to school. She said it was a blessing that the producer said “yes.”

Reviews of the album have been positive and supportive, Brown said. Warnken said he enjoyed the album because the music reflects her personality, which he said cannot be ignored. Like her upfront personality, the message of her music is very powerful and very “in-your-face,” he said.

“Her presence demands attention, and usually it’s for good reason because she does have a lot of really important things to say (that) can have a large impact on those around her,” Warnken said. “It’s a very cool thing to be around.”

Brown said she plans to have a second album released by December. She now has full confidence in her musical abilities and enjoys the process of making music and the freedom it gives her, she said.

“Usually this is a part of myself that I don’t share with others,” Brown said. “So it’s really comforting having that out there, and people can see a side of me that I don’t have to actively portray.”

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