The 5 Browns

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The 5 Browns

Classical piano group

The 5 Browns are a young American group of five brothers and sisters, each trained at the famed Juilliard School in New York City and each a talented concert pianist. They astonished the world of classical music in 2005 when their self-titled debut album was released. They reached the top of the weekly Billboard charts and by the end of that year, were ranked as one of the Top Classical Artists of 2005.

"A Part of Life"

The Browns were born in Houston, Texas, and moved to Utah when Desirae, the oldest, was eleven. They grew up in a family that valued music. Their mother, Lisa, was a trained opera singer, and she knew she wanted her children to have music in their lives. Like many children, they all took piano lessons, starting at age three, when each received a little music bag with their own name inscribed on the side. All of them turned out to be musically gifted. They enjoyed the lessons and had the talent to make the most of their training. As their website noted, the siblings had no idea they were in any way different from other children: they thought everyone could play the piano and make music. Keith commented that his sister Lisa "thought it was a part of life, like eating or sleeping." In 1995 the siblings entered the Gina Bachauer International Five Piano Team Competition. They won second place and were chosen as the Audience Favorite.

The Browns' parents did not push them toward musical careers, however. They simply thought music would bring pleasure to their children. As Lisa Brown told Jennifer Barrett in the Salt Lake Tribune, fame and money "were never the intention. I wanted well-rounded, well-adjusted, open-minded kids. That's what mattered more to me, and then this crazy stuff happened." As the Browns grew, so did their interest in playing the piano; each of them had performed with a major symphony orchestra by the age of nine, and by the time they were eleven, Lisa Brown had to devote herself full-time to the job of shuttling them to lessons and supervising their three-hour practice sessions. The Browns sold two houses and began renting so that they could use the equity to pay for lessons and for the purchase of some of the family's five Steinway grand pianos.

When Desirae began to plan her college education, Deondra, who was a year younger, decided to speed up her education so that she could go with her sister. The family began considering various music schools, as well as numerous scholarships they had been offered. All five siblings ended up attending the Juilliard School, thus becoming the first set of five siblings ever to attend the school simultaneously. The entire family, along with their five pianos, moved to New York from Utah.

The Browns' website quoted an article in Time for Kids, which explained the individual differences in their styles: "Gregory's style is aggressive. Melody's is graceful. Ryan's bursts with energy and personality. Desirae and Deondra play many of the duets." The article added, "Deondra's style is intense and rhythmic, while Desirae's is more delicate."

Hitting the Charts

In 2005 the Browns released their debut album, 5 Browns. RCA, confident about their attractiveness as wholesome siblings, booked them on numerous programs, including Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, Weekend Today, and 60 Minutes. Melody Brown told Anastasia Tsioulcas in Billboard that the group had considered their audience before making the album: "We find that the attention span of most adults and kids is about 11 minutes, so everything we play is about five to 10 minutes long." The album was a huge success, reaching the top of the classical charts.

Their second album, No Boundaries, was released in 2006. The release was a DualDisc, which allowed fans to see as well as hear the siblings playing. One side of the disc contained an audio version of the performances, while the other side had two video selections of all five siblings playing together, as well as an interview titled "Meet the Browns." On some of the music tracks, the siblings all play at once; other tracks feature a duet by Desirae and Deondra, or solos by Gregory, Melody, or Ryan. The disc included music videos of the Browns playing their black grand pianos on the pure white expanse of Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats, with purple mountains in the background. Tracks on the album include Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue; Stravinsky's The Firebird; a new work based on Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring; and Dvorak's New World Symphony.

Tsioulcas wrote that in the "Meet the Browns" interview, some of the siblings, "in trying to connect with young people, tell us how they like to unwind with Rap, Rock, and Hip Hop. Gimme a break!" Although Tsioulcas thought that remark was insincere, she wrote that the 5 Browns "are an astonishingly accomplished ensemble and they tickle the ears."

Gregory Brown told Scott Iwasaki in Salt Lake City's Deseret Morning News, "We titled the album No Boundaries because we wanted to broaden our musical horizons. We had a lot of energy going into the studio." The album soon appeared on the top of the Billboard classical charts. In Entertainment Weekly, however, Gregory Kirschling commented that the album was slightly disappointing because "it contains only three of their signature five-piano numbers."

For the Record …

Members include siblings Deondra Brown, Desirae Brown, Gregory Brown, Melody Brown, Ryan Brown; children of Keith and Lisa Brown; all graduates of the Juilliard School in New York City.

Group formed in 2005; released debut album, 5 Browns, 2005; released No Boundaries, 2006.

Addresses: Record company—RCA Records, 1133 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10036. Website—The 5 Browns Official Website:

Their fresh approach has brought new fans to the genre. According to their website, the Browns have noted that almost one-third of their concert audiences has never attended a classical music concert, and another one-third is college-aged or younger. On the group's website Melody commented that she never thought she would be performing classical music for people her own age, or that they would enjoy it so much. "How could a classical musician ever imagine walking out on a stage with a sea of university students roaring as if we were the latest band?" She added, "It just shows you that classical music is not only meant for those who have grown up around it. It can be placed in a concert hall, stadium, or living room, and it has the same effect—this music can transcend everything!"

Selected discography

5 Browns, RCA Red Seal, 2005.
No Boundaries, RCA Red Seal, 2006.



American Record Guide, February 4, 2006, p. 28.

Billboard, February 12, 2005, p. 13; February 4, 2006, p. 28.

Entertainment Weekly, April 7, 2006, p. 63.


"Classical music's 5 Browns return home," Deseret News, (June 27, 2006).

"5 Browns Hitting All the Right Notes," Salt Lake Tribune, (June 27, 2006).

The 5 Browns Official Website, (June 27, 2006).