© 2022 WBGO
WBGO New Record Spine Header
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Uplift, One Note at a Time: A Letter from Monifa Brown, Host of Saturday Afternoon Jazz


If you are like me, music has always played a leading role in your life. In times of joy, fear and uncertainty, it has always been by my side like a trusted companion.

I have often said that music has saved my life more than a few times! As Ray Charles so eloquently put it, “I was born with music inside me...Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me-like food or water.” This quote resonates with me because it gets to the essence of what music means to so many of us. It is a vital force that keeps us centered, spiritually aligned, hopeful and ready to face another day.

From an early age, my parents gifted me one of my most valuable treasures: jazz. By the time I was in elementary school, I was a regular at clubs like Sweet Basil, The Village Gate and The Village Vanguard. After I graduated from Music & Art High School, I went on to Temple University to earn a degree in Music Therapy with a concentration in classical voice. So much of my existence has been predicated on the fact that music is a healing force, and a powerful tool for navigating life's many challenges.

Every Saturday I have two missions, to Swing Hard and Take No Prisoners — but most importantly, to uplift one note at a time. No matter what is going on, the focus is and remains on using this beautiful music to unite, elevate and spread positivity. I lean on the words of Horace Silver, who once said, "Musical composition should bring happiness and joy to people and make them forget their troubles."  I thank the universe for allowing me to be your guide for these four hours, and I thank you for allowing me to take you on the journey.

Many Blessings,

Monifa Brown
Host Saturday Afternoon Jazz

Born of Ukrainian Jewish and African-American descent in Brooklyn, NY, Monifa Brown's (formerly Carson, happily married and the proud mother of a wonderful son – who can be heard in some of Brown’s WBGO show promos) affinity for music began at an early age. "I am blessed that my parents were determined to expose me to the arts and jazz in particular. They would take me with them everywhere. The first time an irrepressible mark was made was when they took me to hear Miles Davis. His presence and sound were mesmerizing. Miles was magical and I was instantly hooked."