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Quenten Brown

Quenten Brown was born in Edmonton in 1968 to Robert and Lonnie Brown. From a young age, Quenten was a musical prodigy: he began playing the piano at the age of five and made his first public debut at the age of seven. Quenten began taking formal lessons and was also instructed in the basics of gospel piano by musician LeVero Carter, who gave him an extra incentive to play in public by offering him $5 every time he got up to play. Quenten spent this money on candy.

Playing in front of the spirited Pentecostal congregation meeting at Orange Hall on 111 Avenue and 95 Street and surrounded by gospel greats like the Sneed Family Singers, the Whittakers, and LeVero Carter, Quenten was inspired to become a gospel musician himself.

At the age of 10, Quenten became the pianist for the Sneed Family Singers. The group included his mother, Lonnie (Sneed) Brown on vocals and banjo and his aunts, Dianne Sneed, Elva Sneed, and Agnes Brown, along with his grandmother Mrs. Ralph Sneed, on vocals. They would tour throughout Western Canada. Although he needed to stack several chairs in order to reach the piano keys, Quenten impressed crowds with his talent.

By the age of 17, Quenten, nicknamed “Q,” regularly attended Edmonton's Shiloh Baptist Church, which, at that time, was under the leadership of Reverend Johnny Collins. LeVero Carter and Renée Collins led the music ministry there, and Quenten was invited to become a part of the music team. It was there that he learned to play the organ and was part of a church group that went to the annual California Baptist Youth Convention in Fresno, California.

A few years later, Reverend Collins left the Shiloh Baptist Church and began a new ministry, the Edmonton Community Worship Hour. Collins’ congregation, consisting of members—including Quenten—who had left Shiloh Baptist Church, met in the gym of Norwood Elementary School. Within a few years, the congregation had grown and held its services in the Highlands Baptist Church. A new music ministry began as well: the Alberta Rejoice Choir, directed by LeVero Carter. Many of the youth formerly at Shiloh Baptist Church joined.

However, Quenten was now also encouraged to try directing. Under the direction of Renée Collins and Judy Carter, the Alberta Rejoice Choir became The Voices of Joy. At this time, Quenten became co-director and also arranged and played both piano and saxophone for the choir. He had learned the saxophone in his grade seven band class and continued to play it throughout high school.

After high school, he took his playing to higher level, studying the music of Grover Washington Jr., Kenny G, and Kirk Whalum. He taught himself the soprano saxophone. He also began studying Black gospel choir music for the piano and organ and travelled to various churches in the United States to further his studies.

While he was in his mid-20s, Quenten started focusing mostly on directing and arranging. His choir, The Voices of Joy, played all over Alberta and even visited California. With talented soloists such as Jae Mack, Johnny Collins II, Junetta Jamerson, Jana Lapel-Denis, Renée Collins, and Judy Carter, The Voices of Joy was a major player in Alberta’s gospel scene.

Today, Quenten is still active in Edmonton’s music scene, playing the organ and the piano. He directs the Sounds of Soul, a choir that actively plays in the Edmonton area. He participates in many musical projects, including the Black Pioneer Heritage Singers.

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