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  • Ben Province

A Year in the LIFE of Brian Owens

Drawing artistic inspiration from singers such as Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye, Brian Owens is bringing something special to not only the St. Louis area, but far beyond. It's been a remarkably busy year for the Ferguson, Mo. resident, who recently returned from a two-week tour of Japan.

Earlier this year, he released the singles "Sparrow," "Cool Water (Justice Rolls Down Like)" and "Carry You," and beyond touring and recording, the St. Louisan continues to use his platform to champion his community.

A notable snapshot from his 2019 was A Night for Life with Michael McDonald & Brian Owens. The Sept. 29 concert at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center was put on by LIFE Arts Inc, of which Owens is the Executive Director.

The organization has created platforms for young people to express themselves creatively, providing them with impressive resources and opportunities. One example is the Therapeutic Songwriting program, wherein Owens and Maryville University student music therapists give LIFE Arts Inc students the chance to write and record their own original material.

Proceeds from A Night for Life helped further the mission of providing leadership development for urban youth and young adults living in Ferguson, Mo. and the St. Louis metropolitan area. And of course, the night honored the legacy of Doobie Brothers member and solo artist Michael McDonald, a Ferguson native himself.

"I've been talking to Michael for some time about doing a show together for our hometown community and everything just lined up," Owens said. "His music is beloved by fans spanning the globe and has been a soundtrack of love and hope for so many, including myself."

As Kevin C. Johnson reported for in Sept., McDonald received a standing ovation from the crowd, performing both on his own and accompanied by Owens (who also did a solo set), "The Voice" finalist Kennedy Holmes and others.

It was not the first time McDonald and Owens collaborated. The two singers recorded the song "For You," which appeared on Owens' "Soul of Ferguson" album, and they are no stranger to performing live together. Our own Sarah Thompson interviewed Owens last year about his working relationship with the "Taking it to the Streets" singer, which can be heard here.

As the year nears its end, Owens will appear on an episode of the "Sanborn Sessions." The series from six-time Grammy-winner David Sanborn will premiere Dec. 3 on YouTube.

The unscripted web program gathers "top artists from a variety of genres to explore the essence of music," according to the acclaimed saxophonist's Facebook page.


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