GLAAD Media Institute alum Tona Brown—an African-American transgender, musician, educator, speaker, influencer and self-described icon—is here to announce to the world that her story, Tonacity: The Tona Brown Story is ready for reading.
The multi-faceted advocate is most well known for her international performance career as a violinist and Mezzo-Soprano vocalist. With that, her talent as a violinist has brought Brown all over the world including throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Moreover, Brown was the first trans woman to headline at Carnegie Hall. There she performed a program among African American composers with an all-inclusive LGBTQ cast of performers. This honor happened in the same year and time Brown secured her place in the history of trans Americans as the first trans person to perform for a sitting US President.
The year was 2014.
Once thrown into the spotlight, Brown called on the GLAAD Media Institute for a training on how to deal with the attention that might follow her historic performance at the LGBT Leadership Gala Dinner for President Barack Obama, and at Carnegie Hall.
“I went through a media training and it was so helpful, Brown said to GLAAD in an interview. “I’ve used [the media training] ever since.”
Now, Brown shares her life story with the world, and she does so on her terms.
After 50-plus hours of deep conversation with Brown’s dear friend, and veteran journalist, Chris King, Tonacity was born. The memoirist wrote her book through a collaborative interviewing process. King, known for his reporting with Atlanta Fox 5 News, used his extensive career to unearth the perseverance of Brown’s childhood in the American South.
“I let everyone know of the struggles that were going on,” said Brown.
As aforementioned, a lot of people know Tona Brown through her career and through her accomplishments, but Brown says most people don’t know the behind-the-scenes of her life.
“Yes, I had a lot of adversity, but there are so many things that I was able to focus on, and even today, I can focus on the positive things,” said Brown.
Brown’s book will explore financial hardship, childhood sexual abuse she experienced, how her late mother intervened, and Brown’s coming-of-age into womanhood. Nevertheless, one thing that Brown doesn’t want is for people to feel sorry for her.
“I just want people to understand me on a three-dimensional level; [to] understand why I strive for greatness; why I chose the direction for my career,” said Brown. “You’re going to understand [me] so much better after reading my memoir because you’ll see I was raised that way. I mean, the women in my life, that’s how they were.”
She goes on to speak about the transgender-affirming men in her life.
“The gentlemen who helped raise me, my grandfather and my uncles, are the ones who actually were okay with having a transgender [grandchild and niece]. They were accepting,” Brown said.
Ultimately, the memoirist feels pride in her story.
She says that her voice is candid “to a degree previously unknown in the memoirs of transgender people, and this is a genre already known for its candor,” writes Brown in an email. From schools as an educator, in clubs, on the street, in concert halls, and in the bedroom, Brown is proud to be on the frontlines of the trans equality movement.
All-in-all, this book is deemed by Brown a guiding light to peoples’ full potential.
“The main purpose of this book is to encourage people no matter what your obstacles are, that you can succeed, that you can be successful… that it might be a challenge if you’re different because I talk a lot about that, specifically in the transgender community.”
Tonacity is, once again, based on interviews by the St. Louis writer and musician Chris King, and edited by Meghan K. Sheehy, associate professor of Music Education at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY.