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Remembering Professor Leonard Brown

By March 15, 2019March 20th, 201923 Comments


  • Leon Janikian says:

    Leonard may you rest thus.
    Leon Janikian

  • dear family and friends of leonard, i heard about meonard’s passing and somehow can’t believe it. a friend and carrier of the torch for african american music/jazz through l=his life and music. i will keep him in my music and thoughts always. here is a poem to honor leonard, my dear brother.


    words form the hopi people of southwest native america and royal hartigan

    do not stand at my grave and weep, i am not there i do not sleep

    i am a thousand winter new england winds that blow, i am the diamond glints on snow

    i am the massachusetts summer’s sun on the ripened grain, i am the gentle autumn’s rain

    i am harvest leaves of red and orange and gold, i am the life force of all beings, great and small, fleeting and eternal, young and old

    i am mountain meadows of brown and tan and green, i am the inner secret shadow spirits of all things, visible and unseen

    i am the dawning dew in may’s blooming mist, i am the heartbeat of your dreams kissed

    i am the sounds of music and dance and song from up on high, i am the clouds in an endless boston sky

    when you awaken in the morning’s quiet hush, i am the swift uplifting rush of birds in circled flight

    i am the soft stars that shine on a moonlit night

    so do not stand at my grave and cry, i am not there, i did not die

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    and as before, leonard,wherever you go we are with you near or far, and wherever we walk on the paths of this long cold night of life without you, you are right here with us, inside our hearts

    a mirror for each other’s souls through time and space we are one, and someday yet again we will be whole as we awaken together in the evening’s midnight sun

    as we awaken together in the evening’s midnight sun

    and we’ll dance with spirits deep, sing the whole way through,

    we’ll laugh at life’s old ills, and to each other be true, as we awaken together in the evening’s midnight sun

    in the evening’s midnight sun

    we are one

    we are one

    we are one

    all one all

    one all

    beyond forever

    with you, leonard, in heart and spirit

  • Raymond Dean says:

    I was a student of Professor Brown and I really enjoyed his “Music of Africa” class. He was an intelligent, gracious, and kind gentleman. He really had a passion for music and it showed in his class. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. He will most definitely be missed.

  • Rosa Williams says:

    My deepest condolences dear Brown family. Leonard was such a gift to this world! He always had a smile and an encouraging word for me. I loved his pop ups! He would stop by the Latinx Center and before he even came close to my office I could hear his big voice and laughter greeting everyone as he made his way through the center. I loved those moments when we just sat together and he shared his wisdom, his excitement for a class he was teaching, trip he was taking, or concert he was planning. During times of frustration, I could absolutely vent and with a smile and a shrug he would say, “hang in there”. You will be missed and remembered always. Enjoy your eternal rewards my sweet, mighty friend!
    – Rosa R. Williams

  • Murray Forman says:

    Leonard; a giving mentor, a warm and caring friend…and always, ALWAYS the music.
    Loved and missed…go well brother. Peace

  • Randell Zuleka Dauda says:

    Dr. Brown was not my teacher, but I just remember seeing him around campus and the African American institute and thinking “what a cool guy!”. It was so important to have people like him in spaces like Northeastern. He was invited to the Institute and I sat in awe watching in speak. He was confident, smart and brave. He smiled as he educated the audience on African American history and music. As a Black woman, I couldn’t think about a better motivation to join higher education. Sending prayers and condolences for his family. Play on in Heaven Prof!

  • Kasia Gibson says:

    It was a pleasure having you, Dr. Leonard Brown, as my professor for African Experience through Music my freshman year.

    May you rest in peace.

  • Leonard was one of the most talented, loving, and mellow people I ever met. We were involved in lots of music-related academic projects over the years. But that’s not what was important. What was important was that just being with Leonard was always fun, enlightening and well worth your while. Even though I hardly saw him of late, I will miss him a lot. RIP Leonard.

  • Portia K. Maultsby, Ph.D. says:

    I am saddened by the lost of a great musician, scholar, colleague and friend. Leonard dedicated his entire professional life to documenting, preserving, and disseminating the history of African American music, focusing on jazz (that he promoted as America’s classical music) and unknown classical composers through his publications and creative activities.
    We both were Ford Senior Postdoctoral Fellows in the mid-1980s and met at one of the yearly Ford Fellow meetings. At that time, we were among the handful of scholars conducting research on African American music and focusing on issues of performance aesthetics in the context of an African past among other issue, and which led to our bonding as scholars. As ethnomusicologist, we also attended the yearly meetings of the Society where Leonard always engaged with the graduate students, providing encouragement and offering advice on a range of issues. He gave selfishly and generously of himself. He was upbeat with a big smile on his face; the passion with which he spoke added another level of energy to the space. Above all, Leonard was passionate about his work and the need to provide an alternative narrative on African American musical history that reflected the tradition as a lived experience among African Americans.
    I really respected and admired Leonard, and looked forward to our lively exchanges. He always was available, even in the middle of the night, to discuss and help me work through ideas. Although, he no longer is a phone call away I know he will look down continue to utter: “carry on my sister.” Leonard truly will be missed. And his legacy will live on through his body of work and in the professional lives of the many individuals he helped to mold over many decades. Rest in Peace my Brother.

  • Michael Smith and Muminah Abdullah says:

    Leonard you will always have a place in the heart of me and my mother for your generosity,courage,love and support that you gave us may you Rest In Peace my brother

  • Federico Subervi says:

    What was so special about our dear Leonard is that he planted and nourished wisdom with many students, colleagues and Ford Fellows–seedlings of wisdom that will continue to grow with the guidance he offered, which was never under his shade but instead in the sunshine so that each person could flourish on his or her own skills, drive, and strengths.
    We will miss your physical presence, but for ever remember the presence of your spirit. You were my Ford Fellow friend offering me support and guidance for many years. I will share with others the wisdom you helped grow in my thoughts and actions.

  • Jim Anderson says:


    You will always be The Man! Although we were friends and colleagues, you were my teacher as well.


    Jim Anderson

  • Yolanda Comedy says:

    It’s been years since I’ve seen Leonard. We were both Ford Fellows and saw it each other at the conferences. He had a wonderful spirit. When he played the saxophone at the end of our conferences, it brought tears to my eyes and joy to my soul. Going through a PhD program as a minority is so hard and Leonard made me feel that I was part of something bigger and that my small steps were critical. His spirit will never leave us.

  • Jim Anderson says:

    Although you were my friend and my colleague, you were also my teacher…


    Jim Anderson

  • Rodolfo Rosales says:

    I knew Leonard for it seems just a brief moment at the Ford Conferences, but in that moment he became a friend/brother in the struggle for justice whether it be through Leonard’s music or through our theoretical meanderings in trying to bring theory to practice. His face always lit up when he saw me at the conference, that I will never forget. My heart aches for his family and friends who knew him better than I did.

  • Robert Case says:

    His embrace reached to every part of the University, and made it a better place, truer and more authentic.
    Play on, Leonard!

    Bob Case, Emeritus, Mathematics

  • A. Aduama says:

    I was fortunate to have worked with Leonard Brown during his tenure in the Office of the Provost and as a member of the Black Faculty and Staff community. He was always kind and friendly to everyone. My sincere condolences to the Brown family.

  • Leonard Brown was the model of what a world citizen of music should be: tirelessly generous with his extraordinary gifts; open and honest in self-expression; steadfast in the defense and advancement of love, peace and human dignity through his art; representative of the highest standards for his students and colleagues; and exemplary of the dignity and grace to which all of us as artists should aspire. He will live on in our memories.

    Dan Godfrey, Chair
    Department of Music
    Northeastern University

  • James Jones says:

    Dr. Brown,

    I remember your laugh; I hope I always do. I remember our conversations; I hope I always do. I say things like “peace” to end conversations and emails now. I wish my little guy could have met you but I hope that through me he gets a little bit of your light.


  • Amy Roeder says:

    I had the pleasure of serving as Leonard’s assistant in the early 2000s and have very fond memories of him. What a vibrant, light-filled human being! He was an inspiration on many levels and will be sorely missed.

  • Joanne Fowling says:

    Such a beautiful soul. A great mentor. A wonderful and talented musician. THANK YOU Dr. Brown, for all that you meant to so many through your time of teaching at Northeastern. I will forever remember your presence, kind laugh and awesome enthusiasm to the arts, especially through your love for jazz. For the many times both you and Dr. Price just sat with me to make sure I understood the history, strength and richness of our musical background.

    I greatly appreciate the opportunity to get to know you while attending NU. So many are blessed because they had that chance. Although saddened that the world will no longer get the chance to be graced by your physical presence, I am grateful for those who will carry on your legacy and honor through their own growth and support of all things you loved and taught them.

    May God bless your family and those you loved.

    You will be missed!
    Joanne Fowling (Memnon)

  • Jim says:

    I graduated in 2003 and Dr. Brown was my advisor. I heard “Alabama” by the Coltrane Quartet earlier today and was instantly reminded of Dr. Brown. I had no idea he had passed and just found this site when I searched for his name on Google. I wish I could talk to him now (and Coltrane) about the world we are living in right now. Rest in Power, Dr. Brown.

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