The 5 Browns 'Dig Through Darkness' Of Their Lives In Documentary

Jan 28, 2019

Lorraine Wales called me. The longtime director of the Vail Series at Denison University, Lorraine was my dear friend, and I considered her a surrogate mom. Any call from her made a good day better. 

Lorraine was very excited about a new performing group. Five siblings from Utah who were all Juilliard-trained pianists were touring as The 5 Browns.

Their tour dates were selling out but Lorraine, being Lorraine, got a juicy Saturday night date for the Browns to appear in Swasey Chapel at Denison. Would I come out and interview them?

Yes, I would – not because my cynical self was enthralled by these kids. Yes, on video, they sounded talented, but their well-scrubbed, squeaky-sweet personae seemed to me a little bit icky-poo. The music-making was fine. Noisy but fine.

(My attitude then has a lot to do with me being a jerk!)

Came the night, and Ohio was clobbered by a blizzard. Two of The 5 Browns made it to Denison. Two sisters performed a recital in Swasey Chapel. It was a nice concert, and everybody had a good time.

The 5 Browns went on to a lot of fame, recordings, tours, success. They didn’t need me.

Then came the revelation that their father, Keith Brown, had sexually abused each of his three daughters. The daughters testified against him. Dad went to prison, where he remains. Good.

Mom? You’d think would rush to defend her daughters and address the collateral damage done to her sons. She has to this day sided with Dad. The Brown siblings continue to perform.

The siblings did the TV rounds when the horrid news broke. Lorraine's next “Brown” call to me was outrage at Papa Brown, who thankfully had also been two snowed-in to make it to Denison. Lorraine Wales has since gone to heaven.

Now the Browns are the subject of a new documentaryThe 5 Browns: Digging Through the Darkness.

These five adults have become artists. They have been united, by blood, by music, by trauma. Through their music and their words, none seem to embrace the victim role. That they are all trying to forgive makes them better people than most.

The sisters have testified before Congress. They are lobbying for new laws that further protect those who have been abused. They do not back down. They do not deny the crimes committed against them (apparently, their mother does).

It may be that others in their position would withdraw or do anything to avoid being typed as the daughter of an abuser. The 5 Browns go on, playing and speaking up.

Having heard the interviews and seen the trailer of Digging Through the Darkness, I promise to applaud their next area concert with enjoyment for their music and respect for their guts.