Skip to main content

Statue unveiled in downtown Kitchener honours late blues icon Mel Brown

Share

There’s a new statue in downtown Kitchener that honours the late musician, Mel Brown.

It was unveiled during a special ceremony on Thursday at the intersection of Halls Lane West and Queen Street South.

He died more than a decade ago but Brown’s legacy lives on.

MEL BROWN’S ROOTS

Brown was born in Mississipi in 1939 but how he ended up living the last 30 years of his life in Kitchener is a unique story.

Glenn Smith the owner of Ethel’s Lounge in Waterloo and former owner of the blues bar Pop the Gator knew Brown well.

"He knew I was opening a club in Kitchener and I was going to put a house band together and I wanted him to lead the house band, and I pitched him this idea one day we were at Willie Nelson's golf course and I said ‘why don’t you move to Kitchener? And he said ‘okay’ and that was it. The whole thing took about 10 seconds,” recalled Smith.

He said he couldn’t believe he snagged a musician like Mel Brown.

“It was huge. It was like saying we got a new player on the team, Sydney Crosby, it was that big,” said Smith.

Smith said without Brown, there is no Kitchener blues scene.

“He invented it really. There would be no Kitchener blues fest without him,” he said.

Smith described him as a very giving and loving person.

“Never saw him angry unless I didn't pay him enough, but he was great guy. He cheated at golf a little bit but who doesn't,” joked Smith.

BROWN’S WIFE SHOWS SUPPORT

Brown’s widow, Miss Angel, was initially less thrilled to move.

“I wanted to go home,” she admitted. “It was so cold. It was colder than I had ever been in my whole life, even in June I was cold.”

Miss Angel is also from Mississippi and an accomplished singer. She said Brown was looking for place to put down roots and build a legacy.

“He was searching for a place that he could feel good,” Angel said.

MEL BROWN STATUE

The artist who made the statue said he drew on Brown’s energy to create it.

“He kept going and it means a lot to me because my father did the same thing. It was like a replica of my father, honestly, it was an emotional moment to me,” said Abiola Idwu, the sculptor.

The statue acts as a lasting tribute to a very special man.

“His heart would be happy. I think he would be happy,” said Miss Angel.

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

Stay Connected