National Institute on Aging

In Memoriam: Leonard Lewis Brown, 1946-2019

Leonard Lewis Brown, an acclaimed saxophonist and associate professor emeritus of music and of African-American studies at Northeastern University in Boston, passed last month. He was 72 years old.

During his tenure at Northeastern, Dr. Brown served as co-director of the Afro-Caribbean Music Research Project, chair of the African American studies department, and head advisor for music. He also founded the annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert. From 2000 to 2003, Dr. Brown served as vice provost for academic opportunity. From 1996 to 2002, he served as senior ethnomusicologist to the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, the first national jazz museum in the United States.

As a scholar, Dr. Brown made many significant contributions to the field of ethnomusicology. At Northeastern he incorporated ethnomusicology into the curriculum and found ways to engage students with the field. Through collaboration with other faculty, he created new courses and expanded on-campus programing. Dr. Brown was dedicated to mentoring students and other faculty members, as well as creating a warm, welcoming, and collaborative academic environment for people of all backgrounds.

“Leonard was a stabilizing force in the music department, and he always encouraged discussion and figuring things out. He was fair-minded, and just a great colleague,” said Leon Janikian, associate professor of music emeritus at Northeastern. “I felt a strong rapport with him; he understood what I did, and when I became a faculty member as a young assistant professor, he became an informal mentor to me.”

Dr. Brown was a graduate of Kentucky State University. He held a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.


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