May 24th marks a milestone for Monifa Brown, as she celebrates her 25th anniversary at WBGO (Public Radio’s flagship Jazz radio station) where she is the host of “Saturday Afternoon Jazz.” The four hour weekly program airs from 2 to 6pm ET on the Newark, NJ based public radio station WBGO-FM/ Jazz 88.3 FM and worldwide online at wbgo.org Monifa was the youngest regular on-air host when she started back in 1996 and now she has literally spent half of her life on the air at WBGO!
it is truly a labor of love that started when I used to listen to the station as a kid growing up in Brooklyn. My parents, who used to take me to all the legendary jazz clubs from The Village Vanguard and The Village Gate to Sweet Basil, literally poured their love of the music into me.
What have been some of the highlights of your career at WBGO?
During my tenure at WBGO I have enjoyed many high points. Some of my favorite moments have included hosting a monthly performance/interview series in Manhattan on the Jazz floor at J&R (presenting such luminaries as bassist Ron Carter, drummer Roy Haynes and trumpeter Terence Blanchard), serving as Associate Producer of WBGO’s JazzSet with Branford Marsalis and interviewing the Saxophone Colossus, Sonny Rollins. Another career highlight has been having a song composed for me in 2016 by the revered pianist/composer George Cables called “The Mystery Of Monifa Brown,” that was released on his recording “George Cables Songbook”.
Whats on the horizon for Monifa Brown?
This year I also started a new feature on my show called KEEP THE FAITH. The premise is to explore the connection between an artist’s music and their faith. It is my belief that no matter what our own individual faiths are, we are all united in the humanity that each artist offers us through their artistic expression.
Interview with the Women of WBGO:
GFM’s Ivan Orr recently chatted with musician, publicist, radio show host and all around wonderful human being Monifa Brown. They cover a wide range of topics from Monifa’s beginnings as a violinist and vocalist having studied at the esteemed Fiorello H. LaGuardia-The High School for the Performing Arts, eventually graduating from Temple University with a degree in Music Therapy with a concentration in classical voice. They also discuss Monifa’s position as a publicist with Shanachie Entertainment(which she’s held for two decades)which she list artist campaigns for Chris “Big Dog” Davis, Norman Brown, Kim Waters, Najee, Rahsaan Patterson, Luther Barnes, Bluey, Isaac Carree and Calvin Richardson among her current projects. This is an inspiring and must listen interview that is candid and engaging.
About Monifa Brown
Born of African-American and Ukrainian Jewish descent in Brooklyn, NY, Monifa Brown’s affinity for music began at an early age. “I am blessed that my parents were determined to expose me to the arts and jazz in particular. They would take me with them everywhere. But I think the first time an irrepressible mark was made was when they took me to hear Miles Davis. His presence and sound were mesmerizing. Miles was magical and I was instantly hooked.”
May 2021, Brown will celebrate her 25th Anniversary on renowned Jazz radio station, WBGO-FM, broadcasting from Newark, NJ. Her program “Saturday Afternoon Jazz” can be heard weekly from 2-6pm ET in the NY metro area on 88.3FM and worldwide online at wbgo.org. Brown was recently immortalized in a song penned by the legendary pianist and composer George Cables. The pianist wrote “The Mystery of Monifa Brown” featured on his recording “The George Cables Songbook.”
A graduate of Temple University, Brown earned a degree in Music Therapy with a concentration in classical voice. It was at Temple, where Brown fell in love with radio and launched her radio career at WRTI – Temple University’s Public Radio Station. She went on to became the host of the station’s highest rated show, “Turn on the Quiet.” Her resume includes a stint as a host on SiriusXM’s “Pure Jazz Channel,” and as a reporter on a BET program that was once by Herbie Hancock called “The Future Wave.” Brown has also worked for jazz impresario George Wein and his Festival Productions.
Prior to Temple, Monifa Brown studied voice at New York’s esteemed Fiorello H. LaGuardia-The High School for the Performing Arts. The multi-talented Brown has been the host of ‘Saturday Afternoon Jazz’ since 1996. She has also served behind the scenes as both an Assistant and Associate Producer for the show “JazzSet with Branford Marsalis.”
In addition to radio, Monifa Brown is a seasoned publicist who has worked on behalf of artists and record labels for over two decades. She is currently the Vice President of Publicity for celebrated independent record label Shanachie Entertainment. Brown has spearheaded publicity campaigns for some for some of the brightest stars in music- crossing many genres. She has had the distinction of leading press campaigns for such jazz icons as Roy Haynes, Freddie Hubbard, Marian McPartland, Terence Blanchard, Joe Lovano and Dianne Reeves. She has also led campaigns for such renowned R&B, world music and reggae artists as Deniece Williams, Jody Watley, Angie Stone, Meshell Ndegeocello, Soweto Gospel Choir, Third World, Inner Circle and Mint Condition, among countless others.
Brown is currently working on a book of jazz poetry. As a writer, she has contributed articles to Down Beat and Essence Magazines, among other outlets. She has written liner notes and artist bios for such record labels as Blue Note, Columbia and Verve Records. Brown confides, “Jazz is a spiritual pillar in my life. I am privileged to have the opportunity to share my love of this music with the listeners every week. Each show is a tribute to my parents who gave me the enduring gift of this beautiful music we call jazz.”