Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

First Violin: Young, Transgender, African-American-Violinist Tona Brown Is Breaking All the Rules

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

First Violin: Young, Transgender, African-American-Violinist Tona Brown Is Breaking All the Rules

Article excerpt

Tona Brown has always known she was different, but it took her a while to figure out what truly made her unique. "In church I was always taught we all have trials. Mine was finding out who I really was," she says. "I'm an artist who happens to be transgender."

As a child Brown could dance almost as soon as she could walk, and she had mastered the violin by the time most people can drive. Now the 27-year-old Brown, an accomplished classically trained musician and singer, is facing one of the biggest challenges of her life: trying to make it in the conservative world of classical music.

Born in Virginia, Brown's family moved every year from her fifth through eighth grades. They faced periods of severe financial struggle but found a way to rent her a violin in fifth grade. Her talent was obvious, and she would eventually be accepted to the Governor's School for the Arts high school in Norfolk, Va. It was there thai she came out--as a gay male. "I accepted that as who I was, but everyone around me could see there was something different."

Then, attending college at Virginia's Shenandoah Conservatory, Brown began taking classical voice lessons but ran into a big problem--"My voice teachers were trying to force me to be a tenor, and it just wasn't working."

Brown's trouble finding her voice mirrored her difficulty with her gender identity. When she started growing her hair and wearing earrings in college, her mother bluntly asked if she was transgender.

Brown said According to Sharon Brooks, Brown's room, "It wasn't hard for me to accept Tona because I really believe in supporting anyone who tells me that's the way they are. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.