“I write strictly for the love of music,” says Mary Brown, the phenom who, up until now, has worked to remain intentionally under the radar. “I don’t self-promote; I never had a manager.”
Considering Brown’s track record, her low-key approach to career management seems like quite an accomplishment, indeed. Brown, a songwriter, vocal coach and singer, has penned hits for countless marquee artists, working with Mary J. Blige, Will Smith, Patti LaBelle, Babyface, Trey Songz and more. Her BMI publishing company, Ms. Mary’s Music, boasts more than 40 awards plaques.
Brown got her start while still in high school, impressing Teddy Riley so much on an audition that he immediately signed her on to vocal produce, do arrangements and sing background on his second album for the group Guy, as well as side projects. Word spread. Years later, Brown, who says that one of her strengths is “to see the inside of an artist,” was tapped to write a song for a new girl group —fast. In just a few hours, Brown cranked out a song and handed it over to execs: Of course, Destiny’s Child’s “No, No, No” became a monster hit in 1997 and a trampoline for the group and Beyonce Knowles, with whom Brown is currently making new music.
Sean Combs, who says Brown “has a mean pen game,” uses Mary Brown as a songstress for many of his artists. Donnie Klang has benefited from the Brown touch, as has Danity Kane, whose Brown-penned “Bad Girl” featuring Missy Elliott was a fan favorite on TRL.
These days Brown, a New Jersey native, fills her days working with established and emerging entertainers (Babyface, Rihanna) and laying the groundwork for expansion within the industry. She’s just formed a writer’s group called The Formulah, which also includes male group named 4U and a solo artist D-yon.
“I am building a self-contained empire,” she says, as her experiences out of the spotlight get smaller and smaller in her rearview mirror.