Carmen McRae | Trouble Is A Man
Lillyan Brown (1885 - 1969) has only four three-minute songs as her recorded legacy. Her career spanned six decades and she claimed she was the first professional vocalist to sing the blues in front of the public.
Born in 1885 to an Afro-American mother and an Erie Iroquois father in Atlanta, GA, she performed as “The Indian Princess” with an all-white female string band in 1894 and attracted attention as a male impersonator - advertised as “The World’s Youngest Interlocutor” - in 1896.
Brown retired from full-time performing in the mid-’30s. She resumed her stage career in 1949, appeared in a 1952 production of Kiss Me Kate, ran her own school for aspiring vocalists and actors, and during the last years of her life wrote, produced, and directed plays for the Abyssinian Baptist Church. Her final public performance took place in 1964 at a tribute concert for her contemporary Mamie Smith.