Jewel Brown

By Dina Kesbeh

“I was nine years old . . . I prayed and I asked the Lord, ‘Please show me, direct me in a way to be able to help my mom and dad.’” Most kids that age today worry about what features the next iPhone will have, but not Jewel Brown. She had aspirations and aimed high to succeed. She wanted to be a singer, and so she did.

Jewel Brown was born on August 30, 1937, in Houston’s Jeff Davis Hospital. Her family lived in Third Ward in a shotgun house, which she described as “loads of fun and multi-loads of love.” Her father worked long hours but still made time to play with his six children when he came home. Brown’s mother did sewing for the neighbors. She loved to garden and helped her husband with their vegetable garden where they grew the family’s food.

Brown attended Blackshire Elementary and remembers being caught by the assistant principal asleep at her desk. When he asked the class who she was, they all responded, “Jewel Brown.” In her dream, though, she had heard someone asking what she wanted to be when she grew up, so she woke up and exclaimed, “A singer!” The whole class laughed at her, but little did they know what the future held in store.

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