Known for her iconic run on Season 3 of NBC’s The Voice, as well as her lengthy career as a background vocalist for some of the world’s largest stars, Amanda Brown has been an enormous contributor to the music industry over the past decade.
The Bronx native initially started her vocal training at New York City’s FAME school before heading to Howard University, where she would soon land her first major job as a professional background vocalist. With immense talent, incredible drive, and impeccable vocals, Brown found herself working with some of the music industry’s most legendary faces: Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Tori Kelly, Michael Bolton, and Tyler, The Creator, to name a few. Even after releasing her phenomenal debut album, Dirty Water, Brown continued to help fill arenas across the U.S. with artists like The Killers on their 2018/19 tour.
Today, Amanda Brown has so much on the horizon. It all starts with her latest project, From Here, which dives deep into Brown’s journey of self-discovery while overcoming a breakup and moving to a new city. The six-track body of work intimately showcases the artist’s internal battles while simultaneously allowing Brown to dive into the alternative pop genre with beautifully melodic and anthemic sounds.
Along with the EP, Brown is also extending her career as a background vocalist with the one and only Adele. She’s worked with the global superstar for many years, including several standout performances from the singer’s 25 era, and she will continue to do so as both her and Adele prepare for the Weekends with Adele Las Vegas residency for 2023.
Pop Crave spoke with Amanda Brown about her new EP, From Here, her experiences in being a background vocalist for Adele, and what her favorite memories are from being on The Voice. Keep reading for the full interview!
Hi Amanda! As a superfan, I am so happy to be speaking to you today! Since I’ve known about you for so long now, in what ways would you say you’ve grown over the past decade?
Oof! I think I’ve definitely learned to believe in myself a bit more. I mean, that’s a continuous work in progress. I think that when I was still trying to figure out my way in terms of my artistry and where I fit in in the music world, I had insecurities just like we all do. I think that over time, I’ve just learned to trust myself a bit better, to trust my instincts a bit more. I would say that that’s probably had the biggest impact on the way that I express myself creatively and live on stage, how I interact with other musicians, and the way that I write music, so yeah. That’s probably what I would say.
You’re about to release a brand-new EP, From Here, which drops November 10! I legitimately think this is my favorite body of work from you yet. How would you describe the atmosphere and overall vibe of the project?
Aww, thank you! I would say it’s definitely different from the first album that I released. My debut album, that was a bit more rock and roll with more folk influences. I was listening to a lot of early Sheryl Crow, Paul Simon, and Joni Mitchell when I wrote that album. I think also because I grew up in church and grew up in a gospel world, or a contemporary Christian world, that was a lot of the music that I would listen to growing up. Here and there, I would listen to artists like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and all that stuff because that’s what all of my peers were listening to at the time. I heard stuff at school, but I didn’t really get to start exploring different genres of music until I was an adult. I think that my music kind of reflects the type of music that I am listening to in terms of what it sounds like, and so this project, I think, is more so a combination of all of my favorite genres of music. There’s a little bit of rock and roll in there, there’s a little bit of pop in there. I would say, if I had to categorize it, it’s more of an alternative pop project. That is kind of where I am sonically. That’s where my headspace is, and that’s where some of my ideas tend to head in terms of the way that it sounds. Does that make sense? I don’t know. I feel like that was a long answer [laughs]!
The most recent song you’ve released is fittingly titled “Amazing,” which I just wanna shout to the top of my lungs while the car windows are rolled down! Something about it just feels so anthemic. What would you say the song is about, and what does it personally mean to you?
That song I wrote once I moved to Los Angeles. I lived in New York for my entire life before moving here, and that song was kind of about being afraid to leave your hometown but taking that leap of faith and just trusting that this is the direction that I needed to head in. I just packed up all my stuff and moved, and so it’s kind of a song that’s about saying goodbye to everything that you knew: your hometown, all your friends, and your loved ones. At the time, I was also saying goodbye to an ex-partner of mine that I’d been with for a long time. It’s just saying hello to new possibilities, saying hello to a new location, and the potential of new experiences and a new life. When I wrote that song, I had been living in LA for I want to say two or three months – maybe not even – like two months, maybe, and I was just like, “Ahh! It’s sunny and everyone’s fit!” And it’s just like, “I know this is going to be a place that holds so much potential for me.” I was just feeling very sad about leaving but also very happy about all the possibilities of a new place, so that’s what that song is about.
Two songs from the new EP that I’m obsessed with are “Can’t Let You Go” and “Nervous.” What did the songwriting process look like with those songs, and as a whole, when do you get the initial feeling that a song is meant to be on a project?
So for me, in this case, I was collaborating with a number of different songwriters, and I knew that I wanted to get out all of the stuff that I was feeling. It’s kind of a bit of a breakup EP, and it’s so funny because I’m not in that space at all anymore when I wrote it. It was supposed to come out in 2020, but obviously, we know what happened there. It is a bit of a breakup EP, and so that’s kind of where my head was at the time. I just wanted to express myself and get out all of the sadness and all of the shit that I was feeling that you often feel at the end of a breakup, essentially. I would say that that is kind of where I was, and so all of the songs that I wrote and all of the people that I collaborated with, I kind of had a very clear idea, for the most part, that that’s what I wanted to write about, or at least in that area. The different songwriters that I got into a room with, it sort of just evolved from that space. “Can’t Let You Go” is actually a song where for the very first time when I moved to LA, I started dreaming melodies. It hasn’t happened to me since then, but when I first moved to LA, I was meditating for like an hour every day, I was on it [laughs], and I dreamt a melody. I woke up, I grabbed my phone, and I recorded part of the idea which is… [begins humming]. I recorded it, and then when I got into the studio with my boy G [Garen L. Gueyikian], I played it for him and he was like, “Oh, I actually really like that! Let’s work from there,” and so that was a very unique song in that I dreamt it [laughs]. It’s crazy to say it! It’s also a little cheesy. It’s like, “I dreamt that melody, and yeah, that’s the kind of artist I am!” But it’s true! I really did dream it, and then obviously it evolved from that place, but that song was about thinking about this person, constantly dreaming about them, and sort of almost second guessing my decision that I had made to leave. Like, “Oh shit, did I make the right decision? I’m thinking about this person all the time,” and also reflecting on the fact that like, “Why were we together so long? Why didn’t you fight for me a bit more?” That song is about that, and then opposing that, “Nervous” is about falling in love for the first time and meeting somebody that you really are into for the first time. That’s actually the last song that I wrote from the EP. That song and “Amazing” are the two last songs that I wrote, and they have a bit more promise [laughs]! A bit more joy!
There are two songs in particular that I used to listen to nonstop from your debut album, Dirty Water, which are the title track, “Dirty Water,” and “Some Things.” I would play them on a loop when that album first came out. Do you have a favorite song from the Dirty Water album?
It was a tough one because there were so many sad songs on that album. I actually wrote that album while I was on the road with Adele for the last tour that she did. It’s so funny because I was on this incredible tour, I was traveling and doing all of these wonderful things, and I found that I was actually a bit sad and a bit depressed. There were a number of things that were influencing those feelings at the time, but I would say that the song that I am most proud of and most fond of from that album… It’s tough… I would say it’s “The Wild,” and I would say that it’s “The Wild” because it’s a song that’s about breaking up with someone and that person kind of doing you dirty, but then in turn, they’re gonna be thinking about you all the time, and they’re gonna be regretting some of the shit they said and that they did. It’s kind of like reveling in that feeling, you know what I mean [laughs]? Like, “I’m gone, but I’m gonna be on your mind!” It’s so funny because I actually wrote that song with my ex-boyfriend, but I love it! I love it musically, and I love what it represents energetically and lyrically, and so that’s one of my favorite songs. There’s so many sad songs on there… Oof!
You’ve been one of Adele’s backing vocalists for so many years. What is it like working with Adele, and what can you tell fans about what to expect from her upcoming Las Vegas residency?
Well in terms of being a background singer for her, it’s been a joy! She’s just so down to earth, and she’s so genuinely herself all the time. It’s a pleasure working for somebody who is just chill, you know what I mean? She is just very much herself and very personable, and I think that people find that endearing when people are just themselves, especially coming from an artist like her where she’s a worldwide superstar! I love that about her, and that just makes it a joy to work for her. She’s also amazing. She’s an incredible vocalist and an insane songwriter. She’s so gifted, and so it’s inspiring! I find moments that singing behind her and just seeing how she interacts with audiences, I find a lot of inspiration in watching and working with her. I can’t really say too much about the Vegas residency, but I will say that you’re in store for a wonderful experience and a beautiful show. It’s gonna be memorable and… Yeah, that’s all I’m gonna say [laughs]! Come and see us!
Which Adele song is your favorite to perform backing vocals for?
It’s so funny because I did a [Instagram] Live, and some of the people on the Live were also Adele fans, and they were like, “What are your favorite songs?” I kind of just panicked because I didn’t have a second to think about it, and I was like, “This one and this one!” But now that I’ve had time to think about it, I would say that… She’s got so many great songs. She’s an incredible songwriter. “Someone Like You” is a song that for me, I really, really enjoy watching her perform. I don’t sing on that song, so that’s actually one of the few songs where I’m able to kind of just sit back, really enjoy her performance, and really take in all of the lyrics, the music, her voice, and so that is a favorite of mine. I know it’s like one of the biggest songs, but it’s a big song for a reason! I really like “Take It All.” That’s a good song. I like “Oh My God” off of the new record. I love that song. It’s just so much fun. It’s a bop, right? And then what else do I like… I like her live version of “Don’t You Remember.” That’s another song that I don’t sing on, so I get to sort of sit back and enjoy the performance.
You’ve been a backing vocalist for so many other artists, including Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Tori Kelly, Cynthia Erivo, etc. Who are some artists currently inspiring you right now, and is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with in the future?
I mean, I would love to collaborate with all of them! I feel like that would be great. I am inspired by all of them for different reasons. I think that when you work behind people, artists, and creatives like that who are incredibly successful, you pick up different things that they do that you’re just like, “Ah, that’s so smart!” Like, “That makes sense that you would do that,” or, you know, I’m inspired by the way that they interact with an audience or their work ethic. I’ve been inspired by all of the artists that I’ve worked with for different reasons. I would say that in terms of collaboration, I would love to collaborate with Brandon Flowers. I think that he’s an incredible songwriter. He’s original and he’s not predictable in terms of his writing. He always has something in there that is unexpected in addition to him being a great lyricist and obviously a great performer, vocalist, and musician. I would love to collaborate with Adele, obviously! I would love to write with Alicia Keys, actually. I think that that would be a lot of fun, and I think that we would come up with something really cool and interesting musically. But yeah, I’d love to collaborate with all of them. I mean, they’re all incredibly successful [laughs]!
I personally think that you’re undeniably one of the best contestants to ever grace The Voice. Your performance of “Dream On” is what I would consider a pop culture MOMENT! I’ll never forget watching that performance live for the first time. Looking back a decade later, what are some experiences or memories from the show that have really stuck with you?
Well obviously, that one is the first one that comes to mind, the “Dream On” performance, just because it was such a… I had no idea that people were gonna react the way that they did. Like, I was backstage nervous up until the second that I had to walk on stage. I was just trying to make sure that I didn’t crack and make sure that I looked and sounded good, so I was really just blown away by the response. Everyone was so supportive, and the things that people were saying were so nice. That is a really lovely memory for me, and it’s always nice hearing someone saying, “That was my favorite performance on the show,” because it’s one of my favorite songs. It’s actually one of the songs that I wanted to perform from the very beginning, you know, because we have to submit songs and stuff. That was one of the songs that I was like, “I want to perform this song!” Every week, that was on my list. When I finally got to do it, I was just like, “Ah, yes, I’m doing something that I really enjoy and that I want to sing!” And in terms of what I learned from the show, I would say that I learned to trust my gut. I learned that in this business, there are always going to be people that have opinions about what it is that you do and what you sound like, and I just have to kind of trust my instincts and do what feels right for me. Everybody’s gonna always have an opinion, and that’s fine, but the only opinion that matters in terms of my creativity, at the end of the day, is mine. I need to just trust that, and that was the big lesson for me, because I think growing up musically, I was always just like, “Oh, well, what do you think sounds good?” Like, “Does this work?” I’m not a people pleaser, but I was also always caring about what other people thought, what other people thought would work or what sounds good, and so that was a big lesson for me that I actually learned on that show.
Final question. What do you hope fans take away from the From Here EP, and what is next for Amanda Brown’s musical career?
I hope that people just connect to it. I hope that if anybody is going through a breakup or is dealing with a tough relationship, that they can hear some of the songs on this and know that they’re not alone, that we all go through it, that we all survive it, and that they’re going to be okay. There are always new experiences, new people, and new things on the horizon as long as you’re open to them. I hope people can connect to this music because it helped me through a tough time, and I think that writing a lot of these songs helped me find my way out of some of those tough times. I hope that it does the same for people that listen to it, or they just listen to it and they’re like, “I would put this on this playlist because I like it,” you know? But yeah, I hope that that is what people think and feel when they listen to it. In terms of on the horizon, obviously, I’m going to be in Vegas! Come and see Weekends with Adele. I’ll be there. Also, writing new music, recording new music, and just continuing to release new stuff. I’m going to be playing a show with WE FOUND NEW MUSIC. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that, but it’s kind of like an artist showcase that I’m gonna be playing. It hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m gonna be playing it on November 28 in West Hollywood, so I’ll be sure to post that on all of the socials. I think just some more live performances in the new year, some more music, and that’s what I’ll be doing until I die [laughs].
Amanda Brown’s new EP, From Here, is out now.
Reserve a free spot to Amanda Brown’s WE FOUND NEW MUSIC artist showcase on November 28 in West Hollywood here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/amanda-brownlorelei-marcellgood-rznhollotristan-tickets-438536353037?aff=ebdsoporgprofile