Chris Brown’s story has been defined as much by controversy in his personal life as it has by his successful music career. Where did Brown grow up?
Chris Brown was born and raised in Tappahannock, the oldest town in Essex County, Virginia. He attended Essex High School in his teens but relocated to New York in 2005 after signing with Jive Records, in order to work on his self-titled debut album, “Chris Brown”.
For more on where Chris Brown grew up and his early career, read on.
Christopher Maurice Brown was born in Tappahannock, Virginia on May 5, 1989. His parents were Clinton Brown, a prison corrections officer, and Joyce Hawkins, who worked at a daycare center. He also has an older sister, Lytrell.
Brown began listening to music at an early age, particularly his parents’ soul albums, later transitioning to hip-hop. He enjoyed singing and dancing, with Michael Jackson becoming his favorite artist, and joined his local church choir.
His mother first realized how talented her son was after hearing him singing Usher’s “My Way” and began looking for representation for Chris.
Brown’s home situation was tumultuous, however, as his parents divorced and he frequently witnessed Joyce being physically abused by her boyfriend.
When Brown was 13, a local production group, Hitmission Records, stopped at his father’s gas station. Hitmission were looking for new talents and listened to Brown performing, seeing great potential in the teenager.
He was given an audition at Def Jam Records in New York and Tina Davis, a senior executive, took him to meet the label’s former president, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, who wanted to sign Brown that same day. Davis has said that she immediately knew Brown had a wealth of talent and wanted to be part of his career.
Brown’s family and Def Jam continued negotiating for two months but then Davis lost her job during a company merger. Having seen her enthusiasm for his talents, Brown asked her to become his manager, which she was glad to do.
Davis continued the search for a record deal. Brown received multiple offers; even those who didn’t necessarily like his songs could recognise that he had a great voice and talent for singing.
He eventually decided to sign with Jive Records. He has said this was because they had success with other young talents such as Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears and that he wanted his music to have a broad appeal and a chance for a long career.
After signing, Brown continued his schooling in Virginia for a period, attending Essex High School in his hometown of Tappahannock. He relocated to New York in 2005 to begin work on his debut album when he was still just 15.
By the time of Brown’s 16th birthday in May 2005, he had recorded 50 songs from which to pick the tracks that would appear on his debut studio album. The final self-titled album, “Chris Brown”, had 14 songs, with Brown having writing credits on five of these.
Brown felt he had the ability to connect with other young people through his music and seemed to be correct in this assessment. “Chris Brown” was released on November 29, 2005, and entered the charts at number 2 on Billboard’s albums chart, going on to sell more than three million copies globally.
The first single from the album, “Run It!” reached the top of the singles chart, making Brown the first male solo artist for a decade to have his debut single reach the top of the charts.
He would enjoy greater success over the following 15 years, with 16 top 10 hits, including two number ones, and 10 top 10 albums, making him one of the most successful musicians of the 21st Century.