Vocalist and violinist Tona Brown has an international career as a violinist, mezzo soprano and has performed throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Ms. Brown is also an advocate for transgender issues and the arts and speaks and performs for major events on the east coast. She has been heard on such shows “Now What” with BET producer Kevin E. Taylor, WHRO’s Hear Say with Cathy Lewis, the Anthony McCarthy Show, and the Marc Steiner Show. She sang the National Anthem at the Department of Veteran Affairs “2nd Annual LGBT Pride Month Commemoration Ceremony”. In addition, Tona focuses on trans issues with her own online TV series, “Conversations With Tona Brown”. Ms Brown has volunteered for the Helping Hand Mission, Hearts and Ears Inc. Tona volunteered on the National Advisory board for the Outmusic Foundation and performed at the 2011 Outmusic Awards the first classical music artist to do so. Ms. Brown was chosen by the White House to sing the National Anthem for President Obama at a 2011 LGBT Pride Gala in New York City, making her the first transgender artist to be accorded that honor. Tona was recently featured in Glamour magazine’s Hometown Heroes: 50 Phenomenal women of the Year who are Making a Difference. She has also been listed in the Loud 100 list by DBQ Magazine and featured by Huffington Post as an artist to watch as well as a media correspondent for Huffington Post Live. Tona can be seen on the cover of Swerv Magazine as a part of the resurgence of black LGBTQ Artistry in 2015.
Ms. Brown was formally educated at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music studying violin performance with minors in viola, piano and voice. She also attended the Governor’s School for the Arts a prestigious art high school program for gifted and talented students.
Ms. Brown recently performed in the role of Principessa in the Puccini opera Suor Angelica, and her rich, full voice captivates audiences the world over. She also accompanied chart-topping R&B artist Nhojj on his new album, Made To Love Him, and performed the score of the Off-Broadway stage play Cybersex in a February 2014 showcase engagement in New York City. Tona’s talents have evolved to include acting, and she’s been cast as Delia, a major character in the upcoming, new Netflix series City Lightz. One of Tona’s crowning achievements of her illustrious career—at New York City’s iconic Carnegie Hall, in the history-making Tona Brown In Concert At Carnegie Hall. She was the first African-American transgender woman ever to grace the stage of this world-famous recital hall.
Tona Brown’s performance took my breath away. The histories of trans people of color have been omitted and are rarely taught to us through mainstream curriculum or media. It is even more rare-that we are given the opportunity to see trans people of color living in their passions and making history doing it. Seeing Tona perform live is something I feel so grateful to have shared with my students. Her performance changed me, what I thought possible for myself as a trans person of color. I see music and how it shapes all of our lives, as well as our social justice movements differently because of her talents.
~Parker T. Hurley