Rocky Brown, left, accompanied by piano player Brian Robertshaw, play the Hanohano Room at the Sheraton Waikiki on Friday nights.

Solid as a Rock

Rough times strengthen singer

IT'S ABOUT two hours before Rocky Brown's first performance at the Hanohano Room at the Sheraton Waikiki since 2001 -- but for some reason she doesn't look nervous at all.

Rocky Brown
with Brian Robertshaw
and John Valentine

Where: Hanohano Room, Sheraton Waikiki Hotel

When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, no cover

Call: 931-8383

"I used to get nervous before I'd perform," she admits as we sit at the bar with a commanding view of the Waikiki shoreline with Diamond Head in the background. "But I worked at a hospital for special surgery ... scheduling appointments for all these really serious tests that cancer patients have to go through.

"And I was thinking to myself, 'My goodness, you were worried so much about performing in front of people?' And this man was just fighting for his life!"

That experience, along with others Brown went through while living in New York City for the past two years, have shaped the Philippine-born singer-songwriter into someone much different from the 28-year-old woman who first moved here in 1993.

It was her marriage to local boy DeShannon Higa and their time spent back in the Big Apple during such a rough period that's given Brown perspective and inspire her to produce a lot of original material.

"My priorities became very different," Brown says. "My heart and my mind knew that once I got married, I would be a wife first.

"So I was looking for a job -- I'm a college graduate, you know, but I guess you need a master's degree. ... I couldn't find a job. And when Sept. 11 happened, it was a very hard ... life to live. We learned so many things that we would have taken for granted before."

Since she wasn't performing and couldn't find employment, Brown decided the only thing left to do was write.

"I had to do something as far as being creative, so I wrote a lot of songs," she said. "Here in Hawaii, being that I was so busy, I never had any time to write ... (but) I was able to do that in New York."

While Brown is now able to draw upon her experiences to produce new material, after a second stint in NYC, she now feels it's the right time to come back and settle down in the islands.

"It's much better to raise a family here than over there," she says, adding that after almost two years of marriage, she and her husband are just about ready to try and start a family.

"(And I want) to breathe clean air!" she exclaims with a giggle. "I developed really bad allergies while I was there."

HAVING ONLY been home for a little more than three weeks, it's obvious Brown is still trying to settle back into island life; between cleaning and moving into the apartment she will share with her husband, most of her free time has gone toward preparing for the Hanohano Room performances that started a week ago.

Expect a mix of pop hits (think Norah Jones and Santana), jazz standards and show tunes, with a few ballads mixed in as well.

And what about a new album, or a gig someplace that would allow Brown to feel out the alternative sound she envisions for some of her original tunes?

"I feel that I'm not ready yet because I just got back," she tells me. "I need to get all my materials together. ... It's just that I don't want to get started and not know what I'm doing."

Brown hopes that in a year she'll have a studio band in place, and enough material developed and rehearsed to move forward and release her second album in the United States.

"I'd love to do an album where I would be very content with it, to show it to you and say, 'Please listen to this,' ... and don't feel bad about it. It's not so much CD sales that I'm looking for. ... Hopefully, the stories that I'll tell in my songs will have an effect on people."

Do It Electric
Click for online
calendars and events.


E-mail to Features Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Calendars]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --