Severin Browne was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1949 to a musical family. His 3-year old sister immediately took him next door saying that she already had a brother. Severin’s father, Clyde Jack Browne, was a native Californian who was in Germany with the U.S. Army newspaper, The Stars And Stripes. He had met Severin’s mother, Beatrice Dahl, while stationed in Alaska and she had followed him to Germany when he was transferred there. Shortly after Severin was born, the Browne family returned to California and moved into a home that was built by Severin’s grandfather in the 1920s. The Spanish style home is located in an old part of Los Angeles and is where Severin spent much of his childhood.
Severin comes from a very musical family. Severin has referred to his father — a talented jazz musician — as “The world’s greatest unpublished songwriter.” Thus, Severin started playing piano and guitar at a very young age. His brother, Jackson, is also a talented singer/songwriter who has recorded many albums for the Asylum/Elektra labels. In 1970, Severin auditioned some of his songs for Motown Records, not as a performer but as a staff writer. He remembers that Barry Gordy came into his session and asked if he wanted to make a record, to which Severin answered, “No.” But at the young age of just 21, Severin got a contract with Motown Records.
It took about eight months before he became the first white folk/country-type singer on Motown’s growing white roster. “They paid me a draw — money to live on, advance against future earnings and all the songs I wrote, they published. They didn’t work the songs very much,” he says without much regret. But Severin didn’t seem to be in such a big hurry. In fact, he spent the better part of a year trying to find the right producer for his debut album. As Severin recalled later, “All Motown wanted to do was to make their own record… so I just bided my time until I found Larry Murray who had written a lot of things for Johnny Cash including Cash’s film, ‘Gospel Road’.” Severin’s debut album was released on Motown records in 1973.
People who appreciate music will pick up on the great melodies and smooth vocals of Severin Browne when they hear his debut album, titled simply Severin Browne. The songs on the album cover a lot of subjects, but they all come from Severin’s life experiences. Most of the cuts on the album feature, in addition to his savory vocals, Severin’s lead acoustic guitar and piano work. The track, “All American Boy And His Dog” has a great honky-tonk feeling with lyrics like “Shut down, thrown out, like an old motor scooter that’s not worth the repair.” “Sister” is a beautiful song with a touching metaphysical theme. Severin’s subject matter always reflects his growth as an individual as well as an artist.
Severin’s second album for the Motown label, New Improved Severin Browne, was released in 1974. The album features a cast of stellar studio musicians and some very fine songwriting. Severin has admitted to being a romantic, a trait no more apparent than in the song “Love Notes From Denver,” which chronicles an experience in his own life. Whether the atmosphere is the purity of “Beginning To Believe,” the upbeat plaintiveness of “Do Magnolia Do,” or the subtly seductive “Tickle My Lips,” the listener cannot resist becoming totally involved. Severin has named his greatest music influences as Paul Simon, James Taylor, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and his brother, Jackson.
By the age of 25, with two albums released, and the secretaries at Motown still asking his name when he visited, he made his get-away and swore he would not make another record. He kept that promise for 20 years before finally releasing his third album, From The Edge Of The World, in 1995. This album shows the growth that can come from 20 years of life’s experiences and is infused with an amazing flair for great melody and lyrics. Songs like “My Love Mo Betta” and “Uptown” showcase Severin’s inspired soul and R&B flair, which shows a strong Van Morrison influence. “Edge of The World” is a great rocker with a strong Jackson Browne feel, while love songs like “Leaving You’s The Hardest Thing I’ve Known” and “If I Loved You” show that Severin has not lost the great ’70s pop feel that was such a part of his earlier recordings.
Severin’s 2001 album, This Twisted Road, showcases Severin Browne at the very top of his profession as both a singer and songwriter. Ten finely crafted tunes about the failures and successes of life are brought together as few songwriters have been able to achieve. This wonderful set includes songs of love (“Water”), songs of growth (“My Midlife Crisis”), songs of contemplation (“Do You Think I’ll Go to Heaven”) and songs of life in Los Angeles (“Angelyne”). In other words, something for everyone as we all travel “This Twisted Road” called life…
It would be another decade before Severin released a new CD. During that time, he wrote and performed consistently, while also teaching guitar and songwriting. Severin latest CD is called Lucky Man – A Songwriter’s Notebook and includes thirteen new songs from Severin’s ever-growing catalog of songs. The CD was self-released in early 2012. The eclectic mix of songs and styles are some of Severin’s favorites… directly from his notebook! Produced by Severin Browne, Edward Tree, Jeff Kossack and Holland McRae, the variety and quality of the songs is impressive.
Severin is living in Southern California in the home built more than 80 years ago by his grandfather. He still performs regularly in various locations around Southern California, including a regular “First Friday” showcase with his band at Kulak’s Woodshed in North Hollywood.
Severin Browne 2012
Tracks: Lucky Man, Enough For Us, Calypso Rose, To The Light, I Am Not Cactus, Is It Really True?, Britta’s Birthday Song, Don’t Give Up On Me Virginia, Cat Woman, Dear Ruthie, The Other Man, When It’s Right It’s Right & Lessons.
Musicians on the Lucky Man album: Severin Browne and others.
This Twisted Road
Severin Browne 2001
Tracks: Don’t Mistake The Singer For The Song, Do You Think I’ll Go To Heaven, Water, You Can’t Fool The Moon, This Twisted Road, Sweet Stupid Dreams, Angelyne, Strange Life, Midlife Crisis & Roads.
Musicians on the This Twisted Road album: Severin Browne and others.
From The Edge Of The World
Moo Records 1995
Tracks: My Love Mo Betta, Worth, Uptown, If I Loved You, Dance Until Tomorrow, Money, Hit From A Heartbreak, Edge Of The World, One Mile Closer, Mystery, Leaving You’s The Hardest Thing I’ve Known.
Musicians on the From The Edge Of The World album: Severin Browne , Carlos Vega, Steve Cardenas, David Carpenter, Craig Doerge, Alex Acuna, Dave Pietro, Rosemary Butler, Debbie Pearl, James Coberly Smith & Jackson Browne.
Motown Records 1974
Tracks: Love Notes From Denver, Tickle My Lips, Romance, More Dreams In The Sea, Confessions Of A Madman, Song, The Sweet Sound Of Your Song, Do Magnolia Do, School & Beginning To Believe.
Musicians on the New Improved album: Severin Browne, Jeff Porcaro, Russ Kunkel, Robert Grinnedge, Richard Bennett, David Hungate, David Paich, Alan Lindgren, Joe Porcaro, Bobby Torres, Steve Leeds, Jennifer Warren, Carol Carmichael, Bobbi Thomas & Jules Shear.
Motown Records 1973
Tracks: Stay, Darling Christina, Snow Flakes, Raggedy Ann & Me, Skip Tune, Sister, Not Quite Time, There’s A Lot To Be Said, Just A Matter Of Time & The All-American Boy And His Dog.
Musicians on the Severin Browne album: Severin Brown, Dennis Conway, Merel Bregante, John Guerin, Pete Klienow, Richard Bennett, Maury Manseau, Emory Gordy, Bruce Buell, Steve LeFever, Alan Lindgren & King Errisson.