Tona Brown is the first African American Transgender violinist and vocalist to sing for a seated President of the United States of America. In June 2011, she was invited to perform the National Anthem for President Barack Obama in New York City during the opening ceremony of the LGBT Leadership Conference and Gala Fundraiser. As a professional musician and vocalist, her career spans across North America and Europe.
Her destiny as a performance artist began at the prestigious Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, Virginia from 1994 to 1998 studying with Darrell Huskey, Dr. John MacCormack, Lisa Bishop, Jorge Aguirre and Leslie Stewart. While in attendance at the Governors School for the Arts, Tona received many awards for her leadership in various ensembles from symphony to chamber music. She won concerto competitions her junior and senior years. Ms. Brown also performed with the Governor’s School for the Arts orchestra and quartet in England and France. After auditioning for the Norfolk Fest Events talent competition, she was able to do master classes with the Meadowmount Trio, Ani Kavafian and Isaac Stern.
Ms. Brown also attended master classes and programs at Norfolk State University Junior Music Program and Old Dominion University Quartet Adventure program that is an intensive study of chamber music provided by principal players of the Virginia Symphony. While studying at Old Dominion University, she met and performed with Mr. Amadi Hummings. She was invited to participate in the Eastman School of Music Gateways Music festival. Ms. Brown continued her education at Shenandoah Conservatory on a scholarship for four years. There she studied with Olivia Hajioff, Marc Ramirez, and began taking voice lessons with soprano Patricia Wulf. At Shenandoah Conservatory, Tona performed in the chamber orchestra, symphony and the Shenandoah String Quartet.
Ms. Brown sits on the National Advisory Board of OUTMUSIC – The LGBT Academy of Recording Arts (The LARA). She donated her time to the Academy to program and conduct the very first classical performance for the 7th Annual OUTMUSIC Awards with her 11 piece AIDA String Ensemble playing Vivaldi’s ‘Summer’. Her performance was acknowledged with a roaring 5 minute standing ovation.
Tona is currently residing in Springfield, Virginia, where she teaches violin and voice lessons. She is a founding member of the Aida String Ensemble and performs frequently as the principal violinist of the Radiance String ensemble. Ms. Brown also has been featured in numerous newspaper, magazine and television programs for her work with the youth in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and for her recitals. Ms. Brown has also been featured in articles in the Advocate magazine and The Virginian Pilot.
Ms. Brown is also a recitalist and chamber musician. She tours frequently throughout the United States performing both vocal and instrumental repertoire. She was selected to do a national tour with the “Tranny Road Show” a multi-media, tour group of Transgender artists that toured from Florida to Canada in April 2006. While on tour, she met Christopher King of the St. Louis American. She was asked to write articles about opera singers for the St. Louis American. Her most memorable interview and article was with Shirley Verret, one of her all time operatic idols. Ms Brown was also a featured soloist and speaker for the 2nd Annual LGBT Pride Month Commemoration Ceremony for the Department of Veteran Affairs singing the National Anthem. She was also a guest on the “Anthony McCarthy Radio Show” speaking about her volunteer work with Hearts and Ears Inc.