Bobby Brown returning to Nashville as ‘a better man’



In Atlanta, singer Bobby Brown receives three proclamations acknowledging his plans to build a shelter for domestic violence victims in honor of his late daughter Bobbi Kristina, despite allegations he once hit his ex-wife Whitney Houston. (July 31) AP


When Bobby Brown receives the Icon Award in Nashville on Thursday during the Black Music Honors ceremony, the focus will be on a long, storied musical career.

It’s now been 40 years since a 9-year-old Brown co-founded New Edition, and 30 since “My Prerogative” and “Every Little Step” made him a solo star.

It’s a change of pace from the sort of reflecting Brown has done lately, which typically has a scope that goes well beyond the music.

He’s produced “The Bobby Brown Story,” an upcoming BET miniseries that also depicts his turbulent personal life — one marked by substance abuse, multiple arrests and the tragic deaths of his ex-wife, Whitney Houston, and their daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown.

“To be frankly honest, I feel like Superman with all of the things that I’ve been through,” Brown tells The Tennessean. “(I’ve still) been able to stand up on my two feet and still walk and take care of my family. … Sometimes I can’t even get out of bed because it’s just like I’m thinking about things. But I get out of bed, and I keep moving.”

The third annual Black Music Honors show also will recognize Dallas Austin, Faith Evans, Stephanie Mills, Whodini, and BeBe and CeCe Winans. Ticket proceeds benefit the National Museum of African American Music, which is scheduled to open in Nashville in 2019. Brown says he’s looking forward to hearing more about the museum while he’s in town.

“I think it’s necessary that somebody builds a museum, and I’m glad it’s Nashville, because Nashville is probably one of the places that accepted R&B in the beginning with country music. Country music ain’t nothing but R&B sung with a twang.”

Brown was saying the same thing about country music 10 years ago when he — very briefly — lived in Nashville. As part of the cast of the reality TV series “Gone Country,” he and six other celebrities (including Carnie Wilson and Maureen McCormick of “The Brady Bunch”) lived in the Fontanel Mansion, and competed for a shot at country stardom.

It was mostly played for laughs, but Brown took the challenge seriously.

“I thought I was gonna win,” he says with a laugh.

He still contends that he wrote the best song on the show, called “The Man I’m Gonna Be.” He sang about praying for forgiveness after being “locked up, messed up” and giving someone “so many reasons to leave.”

Since then, Brown has remarried. He has three children with his wife, Alicia Etheredge Brown.

“It definitely happened for me,” he says. “I’m a better man now than I was before. … It came to fruition. And I’m just glad that I’m able to still be here, to make new music and to be able to tell my story, the way I need to tell it, and not let anybody else tell my story.”

That stance is one that’s landed Brown some unflattering coverage in recent weeks. His plans to build an Atlanta domestic violence shelter in honor of his late daughter have led to questions about his history with Houston.

At a press event for “The Bobby Brown Story,” he denied that their relationship ever turned violent — contradicting a 2016 interview in which he said he once hit Houston.

When asked about court records involving a 911 domestic violence call Houston made in 2003, Brown replied, “The public record is wrong.”

“The public’s opinion and view of me has only come from the raunchy papers, the raunchy reporters that only look at the bad in people,” Brown tells The Tennessean.

“They only look at what you’ve done yesterday. They don’t look at your life. I’ve had a really rough life, but it might seem to others that it’s been all because of me. It hasn’t been all because of me. Because I’ve been through things that the normal man would not be standing, would not be walking around today.”

As he prepares to look back once again this Thursday, Brown says in his career he’s most proud of “just being myself and not trying to work so hard at being something that I’m not.”

“I love entertainment. I love music. I love people. I based my career on that, and thank God that I’m still able to do it today.”

The third annual Black Music Honors takes place Thursday at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. The show starts at 7 p.m., and tickets are $14.50 to $77.50.

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