Belfast Telegraph

Newsreader turned singer hopes to take music to people on margins of society

Jill Brown, who used to appear on STV, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £5,000 so she can work with prisoners.

Former television reporter Jill Brown (Mark Shields/PA)
Former television reporter Jill Brown (Mark Shields/PA)

By Douglas Barrie, PA Scotland

A former newsreader turned singer-songwriter has launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring music to people on the margins of society.

Jill Brown hopes to raise £5,000 to help take live music to those who would not normally get to attend a gig, such as people serving prison sentences.

The East Dunbartonshire-based musician, 42, was previously a reporter on STV news bulletins before setting up her own media company, as well as focusing on her music.

She has played at King Tut’s and the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow, as well as performing a series of gigs in Barlinnie prison.

I would really value the support of others to enable me to keep creating what I hope is honest music that really resonates with people Jill Brown

During those concerts, Brown asked prisoners to join her on stage to duet as well as perform their own songs.

She now wants to hold songwriting workshops with inmates, with a plan for a special concert at the end when she will perform with the prisoners she has worked with.

Brown said: “So far I have been funding myself and doing gigs voluntarily but I would really value the support of others to enable me to keep creating what I hope is honest music that really resonates with people.

“Suffering is a real leveller. So many people have chaotic lives, have survived trauma and struggle with mental health.

“We all have a story to tell and I believe the most powerful story you can tell is your own.

“I hope my music encourages those hanging by a thread to keep going.”

The campaign will help facilitate further work in prisons, including hiring a professional band and meeting “a lot of costs associated with taking music on the road”.

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Jill Brown has played Barlinnie prison in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Her latest song, Every Contact Leaves a Trace, is described as gospel noir and has been created with Lewis Gardiner, drummer with Scottish band Prides, who performed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony in Glasgow.

She said: “When I first heard the phrase, ‘every contact leaves a trace’, I thought of the impact people have on our lives for good or ill.

“Sometimes it’s just a smile and a small act of kindness by a stranger that makes all the difference to our day.

“Like many others, I struggle with my mental health and it can feel I’m in a psychological prison from which I’ll never escape.

“I have times of crippling anxiety as well as times of depression and it’s this experience of bleakness and battle that gives me empathy for those society neglects.

“I’m also a very optimistic and upbeat person, though, and don’t let difficulties define me.”

The single is available on iTunes and Spotify.

PA

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