Echo Brown, a late blooming storyteller who mined her life to create a one-woman present about Black feminine identification and two autobiographical younger grownup novels during which she used magical realism to assist convey her actuality, died on Sept. 16 in Cleveland. She was 39.
Her loss of life, at a hospital, was confirmed by her buddy Cathy Mao, who mentioned the trigger had not but been decided. However Ms. Brown was identified with lupus in about 2015, main finally to kidney failure, Ms. Mao mentioned by telephone. A reside kidney donor had been cleared for a transplant, which was anticipated to happen early subsequent yr.
Ms. Brown, who grew up in poverty in Cleveland and graduated from Dartmouth School, had no skilled stage expertise when her serio-comic present, “Black Virgins Are Not for Hipsters,” made its debut in 2015. It informed her autobiographical story, by a number of voices, about relationship a white hipster, together with questioning what his response to her darkish pores and skin could be, and the intercourse, love, melancholy and childhood trauma she skilled.
“It’s very revealing, and I felt very susceptible doing it,” she informed The Oakland Tribune in 2015, including, “It’s as if you happen to get onstage and share your deepest, darkest secrets and techniques. Placing my sexuality on the market in entrance of individuals could make me really feel very uncovered.”
The present was efficiently staged in theaters within the Bay Space; she additionally carried out it in Chicago, Cleveland, Dublin and Berlin.
Robert Hurwitt, the theater critic for The San Francisco Chronicle, known as Ms. Brown “an immediately engaging and interesting performer” who “has us consuming out of her hand properly earlier than she will get everybody up and dancing for instance (with a bit assist from Beyoncé) why Black ladies shouldn’t dance with white males till no less than after marriage.”
And the author Alice Walker said on her blog in 2016, “What I can say is that not since early Whoopi Goldberg and early and late Anna Deavere Smith have I been so moved by a performer’s narrative.”
When “Black Virgins” was talked about in a profile of Ms. Brown within the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine in 2017, Jessica Anderson, an editor at Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Little, Brown Books for Younger Readers, took discover.
“I reached out blindly to see if she would flip her consideration to writing for a younger grownup viewers,” Ms. Anderson mentioned in a telephone interview. “She wasn’t conversant in younger grownup or kids’s literature. I despatched her some books, and he or she had a direct sense of what her storytelling needs to be.”
The end result was “Black Lady Limitless” (2020), a novel that Ms. Brown tells by the lens of her younger self as a wizard who offers with a hearth in her household’s cramped condo, her first kiss, her brother’s incarceration, sexual assault and her mom’s overdose.
“Brown’s best present is evoking intimacy,” Karen Valby wrote in her evaluate in The New York Instances, “and as she delicately however firmly snatches the reader’s consideration, we’re allowed to see this woman of multitudes and her neighborhood of contradictions in full and particular element.”
Ms. Brown’s second e book was “The Chosen One: A First-Era Ivy League Odyssey” (2022), a coming-of-age story that makes use of supernatural components like twisting portals on partitions to depict her disorienting and annoying experiences at Dartmouth as a Black lady on a predominantly white campus.
Publishers Weekly praised Ms. Brown for the best way she ruminated on her “independence, concern of failure and psychological well being” with “vigor alongside themes of therapeutic, forgiveness and the human must be and really feel beloved.”
Echo Distinctive Ladadrian Brown was born on April 10, 1984, in Cleveland. She was reared by her mom, April Brown, and her stepfather, Edward Trueitt, whom she thought to be her father. Her father, Edward Littlejohn, was not in her life. Throughout highschool she lived for some time with considered one of her academics.
Ms. Brown thought that Dartmouth, with its status and stately campus, would symbolize a “promised land” to her and be “the start of my turning into,” she mentioned in a TEDx speak in 2017.
However early on she heard voices from a rushing truck shout the N-word at her.
“They weren’t college students, they in all probability weren’t affiliated with Dartmouth in any means, however it was sufficient to shatter me,” she mentioned. The incident taught her a lesson: “There aren’t any promised lands on this world for marginalized folks, these of us who fall exterior the class of regular.”
She graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s diploma in political science — she was the primary faculty graduate in her household — and was employed as an investigator with the Civilian Grievance Overview Board, the impartial oversight company of the New York Metropolis Police Division. She left after two years, believing that “we didn’t have the ability to do the work that was needed,” she informed the Dartmouth Alumni Journal.
She labored as a authorized secretary and briefly attended the Columbia Journalism Faculty. She grew to become depressed, began to review yoga and meditation, and moved to Oakland in 2011. Whereas there, she was employed as a program supervisor at Challenge Day, a bunch that holds workshops at colleges geared toward constructing bonds amongst youngsters.
Her job included telling college students about her life, which helped her discover her voice.
“I discovered that I may drop folks into emotion and pull them out with humor,” she mentioned within the Dartmouth journal article. “That’s the place I discovered I used to be a superb storyteller and puzzled, ‘The place can I’m going to inform extra tales?’”
She started taking courses in solo performing with David Ford on the Marsh Theater in San Francisco. At first, she wrote comedian scenes, then created extra severe ones.
“It was clear that she was somebody who was prepared for this, and he or she had a very simple time getting the phrases off the pages as a performer,” Mr. Ford mentioned. “There was one thing miraculous about her.”
Along with her mom and stepfather, Ms. Brown is survived by her brother Edward. Her brother Demetrius died in 2020.
Ms. Brown’s newest undertaking was a collaboration with the actor, producer and director Tyler Perry on a novel, “A Jazzman’s Blues.” It’s primarily based on a 2022 Netflix film of the identical title that Mr. Perry directed from a script that he wrote in 1995, about an ill-fated romance between youngsters (the younger man turns into a jazz musician) in rural Georgia that takes place largely within the late Nineteen Thirties and ’40s. It’s to be printed early subsequent yr.
Ms. Anderson mentioned the undertaking took place as a result of, as Ms. Brown received sicker, “it was too energy-consuming for her to work on her personal materials. So she was on the lookout for a extra artistic partnership. and this took place by her agent.”