By D. Garkpe Gedepoh
As a child, I was privileged to have met Sherman Brown, the radio and television legend when I frequented the Ministry of Information where my mother worked at the time. Like Jonathan Reffell, G. Henry Andrews, Joseph Gbayou and Jesse Karnley, Sherman Brown became a household word in radio land Liberia.
I grew up listening to those distinguish voices on ELBC Radio Station at the Ministry of Information in Monrovia. One of them was the voice of Sherman Brown, a man of many talents.
In 1979, ELTV was operating in their new building in Paynesville. I had learned how to play the guitar, was singing oldies but goodies, and wanted to appear on the “Weekend Special,” a show almost everyone watched those days for entertainment.
I went to ELTV to talk to Mr. Brown but someone directed me to his production office, which was located on Benson Street in central Monrovia. His show was already planned for that week but he allowed me to audition, and was so pleased with my performance that he scheduled me to perform the following week on his TV show.
I sang two songs on his show, “My lovely Elizabeth” and “Advice to School Girls” by Sooluman E. Rogie. It was my introduction to show business, which later harnessed my desire to become a broadcaster.
After the recording of the show at ELTV studios, Mr. Brown paid me US$50.00, which was a lot of money for a kid from Logan Town. My childhood friend Emmanuel Abalo, who had learned to play the organ came to my house and suggested that we form a musical group. We formed the group and named it “The Degrees.”
Two of Emmanuel’s friends who attended Tubman High, Sam Harris and Sam Jackson, joined the group. And in no time I was back on Weekend Special with “The Degrees” singing ‘Ribbons of Blue’ and ‘By the rivers of Babylon’, and we became the talk of the community.
Sherman Brown, who passed away on April 11, 2012 was creative, and was always looking for untapped talents for television, even though other well-known talents frequented his show. Another thing I liked and enjoyed about him was the variety of slots he had on his show.
There was a slot called ‘Question Box.’ During this period, he would quiz contestants on different subjects, and also would ask the contestants to pick up a folded paper with written questions from a box while looking in the opposite direction. He would read the questions and gave the contestants 10 seconds to come up with the correct answers. With 10 seconds per question, the contestants have to answer two or all three questions correctly in order to win a price.
Sherman Brown had a way of making folks laugh. We used to sit at home and be entertained by Sherman Brown, who knew how to advertise and describe the products on his show.
He was also a musician who played the guitar very well. I remember the time he appeared on his show with his guitar, his wife, and folks from his Brewersville neighborhood. He sang a song called “The Bulldog in the pan, and the frog is in the pool.” It was a funny song, and at times he would laugh at himself for singing such song.
From ‘Pay-Me Weah,’ to Jacob Dweh, Tecumseh Roberts, and the rest of Liberia’s talents and hidden talents, Sherman gave us the opportunity to explore our hidden talents, and promoted Liberian music and culture well.
When ELTV and ELBC failed to acknowledge its potential, Sherman Brown did not sit still and grumbled, but moved on to establish Sabi Production, which became the most popular entertainment and advertising Production Company in Liberia. And when Mama Liberia failed to acknowledge her hidden potentials, it was Sherman Brown who brought the hidden talents to light.
And like Bai T. Moore, Sherman was always in search of the bright minds, musicians, and cultural artists in Liberia.
I remember the revolving advertising billboard that Sherman creatively designed and erected at the junction of the two bridges in Via Town. It was very mystifying, and brought some cosmetic beauty to Via Town on Bushrod Island.
Sherman will be remembered as a creative genius and the first Liberian to build a revolving advertising billboard in Liberia. He will also be remembered not only for his musical skills, but also as a Liberian who helped musicians gain recognition in Mama Liberia. His contributions to Mama Liberia will forever be remembered.
I hereby stand at attention and salute Mr. Sherman Brown for his magnificent contributions to Mama Liberia.
Well done Sherman, well done…