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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Lala Brown was making strides in her musical career.
Lala Brown was making strides in her musical career.

Brown's life has lessons for Milwaukee

On Oct. 19, 2007, the world mourned the tragic loss of R&B singer "La La" Brown. That same day, however, Milwaukee mourned the tragic loss of 21-year-old Yolanda Brown. You see, the world lost a gifted singer, beautiful model and protégé of R&B artist Lyfe Jennings.

But we, as fellow Milwaukeeans and as a community, lost a daughter, a sister and a mother to a young child. You went to Jackie Robinson Middle School with her. You graduated from Milwaukee High School of the Arts with her. You went to church with her. You went shopping with her. You jumped up and down in your living room when you realized her music video with Jennings was receiving nationwide exposure.

So, although there is still tremendous pain associated with her loss, I would like to share three important points to assist with the healing process.

First, Yolanda Brown was able to share her gift of song on a nationwide level. It was her dream to sing, and she accomplished more in her 21 years than many are able to do in their own lifetimes. Most Americans, and certainly many African-Americans, work jobs just to "pay the rent." Paychecks come from doing what you have to do. How many of us can actually say they do something for a living that we have a passion for?

But true happiness comes from doing what you love. We should be content that she was able to do so. I first met Yolanda when she was 12 years old. I befriended her older sister, and once she found out I was a local hip-hop artist, Yolanda had hundreds of questions every time I visited. She sang for me. She shared song concepts with me. I remember thinking how advanced her thought process was towards music, despite being so young. I now realize just how far youthful enthusiasm can take a person.

Second, the song Yolanda will be remembered for speaks directly to the embarrassing, destructive plague of teenage pregnancy. "Hold on to your innocence/Use your common sense" is what she sang in her cameo appearance on …

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