A movement is afoot to have a local celebration recognizing the musical achievements of Tappahannock native Chris Brown.
Brown, an R&B singer who left here to launch his musical career when he was 15, has sold 92.5 million cumulative singles in his career, making him one of the highest-selling male R&B artists of all-time.
Last month the 33-year-old earned his 56th Gold single with “Call Me Every Day” from his studio album Breezy. He now has two more Gold singles than Elvis Presley.
Moreover, Brown became the most decorated singer in Billboard Hot 100 history last year with more than 100 entries on the chart. He was most recently nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Album with Breezy (Deluxe).
Community activist Ronnie Sidney II told the Rappahannock Times he is working with a committee of Essex County residents to recognize Brown here. Sidney said the committee includes Tappahannock Councilor Anita J. Latane, Jamie Segar, Travis Harris, Steve Coles, and Reginald Carter.
“One of our committee members has been in contact with Chris Brown and he has given his approval to proceed,” Sidney told the Rappahannock Times.
Sidney says proposals will be made to the Essex County Board of Supervisors, the Tappahannock Town Council, and the Essex County School Board. Sidney says he is also working in conjunction with the Essex County Development Authority, of which he and Segar are members, and Tappahannock Main Street.
“We feel like it is long overdue for the town and county to honor Chris Brown’s achievements in a meaningful way,” Sidney said. “Several of us went to school with him and Anita used to work with him at the Marsh Street pool.”
Sidney says ideas that have been discussed include:
• Provide Chris Brown with a key to Tappahannock.
• Placement of a Hollywood-style star on Prince Street.
• Honorary Street name “Chris Brown Boulevard” on a section of Church Lane in downtown Tappahannock, and a Resolution of Appreciation and acknowledgment of “Chris Brown Appreciation Day” to be held on May 5.
• Essex County Public Schools providing Chris Brown with an honorary diploma.
• Essex High School gymnasium or football field/ track complex be named in honor of Chris Brown.
• Chris Brown inspired mural placed at Essex High School and/or James Cary Intermediate School.
• Chris Brown inspired mural on the side of a building located on Church Lane.
• Chris Brown Appreciation Day program held on May 5, 2023 from 6 p.m. “We would like to invite local dignitaries, former teachers, family members, and members in the community to come out and honor him,” Sidney said. “We plan on having time for reflections, musical and art tributes from young people and adults.”
• Request to change the name of Upright Road, to Chris Brown Road, and request to place a highway marker at the corner of Upright Road and US 17 in honor of Chris Brown.
“He is one of the most decorated artists in the world and it is time we celebrate him,” Sidney stated. “Our town and county have been through a lot over the past year and we feel this is a great way to bring our community back together.”
Brown has seemed to overcome early issues that caused him to be a lightning rod for controversy.
In 2009, Brown assaulted then girlfriend and fellow R&B star Rihanna. He was eventually sentenced to 180 days of community service and five years of supervised probation. The two ultimately reconciled and released remixes of each other’s songs via Twitter, and Brown was featured on a song on her album Unapologetic.
In 2013, Brown was charged with assaulting a man outside a Washington, D.C. hotel which was a violation of his probation that resulted in him serving 100 days in jail in 2014.
Brown is among the top 40 best-selling artists of all time with nearly 108 million albums sold, and is the fifth best-selling hip hop artist of all–time.