Known by audiences as Fiidla, Philadelphia-based violinist and vocalist Owen Brown M’96 joined Emmy Award-winning tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith for a Valentine’s Day performance at New York City’s Lincoln Center, in the David Rubenstein Atrium.
The performance explored the African American experience, from the dance and percussion on slave ships through the jazz, be-bop, and hip-hop eras. Owen’s quartet was to team up with Smith for a second performance in February and another in June.
A veteran of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Owen has performed alongside artists including Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, George Clinton, Chaka Khan, Mary J. Blige, Patti LaBelle, Paul Anka, and Michael Bolton. He has released three recordings, The State of Things, Friends, and Why Not Love? and has been part of several others as a side man or producer.
Adept on numerous instruments, Owen also works as an artist developer, voice coach, personal trainer, and naturopathic doctor.
Born in London and spending years in New York City, Owen came to IUP to study under Stanley Chepaitis, who played a mixture of classical and jazz violin. While at IUP, Owen took leave to join the pop group Surface for a 14-city tour of Asia.
“All of that happened because of IUP,” he said. “IUP is what gave me a jumping point to the next part of my life.”
See a January 14, 2005, story about Owen in “Fiidla on the March.”