Carnegie Hall made another dream come true last night when Tona Brown took to the stage. The 34 year old violinist and mezzo soprano had dreamed of playing Carnegie since she was 14 years old and attending the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, VA. The show featured highlights from her album, “This is Who I Am,” the songs from which honor the legacy of African American music, a strong influence in Brown’s life.
Anyone who makes it to Carnegie is a big deal, but for Brown, the odds were particularly long. She’s the first trans person of color ever to do so. As we’ve seen so many discriminatory barriers fall for so many people over the years, the trans barrier is still all too real. Legal protections for trans individuals lag behind those of lesbians and gay men; not only has our struggle not always been viewed as the same, but the lesbian and gay community itself has not always fought the good fight alongside the trans community.
But we’re making strides, and I’m so proud of Tona Brown – trans people have to work against so many stereotypes, not the least of which is the conflation by those not in the know with drag culture. I can only imagine how often she has to defend her art to people who would accept without batting an eye any petite young white girl standing up on stage!
Here’s Tona Brown playing Amazing Grace:
Thanks for reading,