Saturday, May 31, 2014
BY JEANNE MAY
(Detroit) FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Edna Brown, a singer who spiced her act with a joke between songs
until the jokes took over and the songs became an afterthought, died
of lung cancer Saturday at St. John Macomb Hospital in Warren.
She was 83 and lived in Madison Heights.
Her jokes were edgy, risque, even raw, but she never used four-letter
"I give them the material, but they've got to draw the dirty pictures
in their minds," she told the Free Press in 2001.
Word of her act spread, and in 1966, fan dancer Sally Rand asked Ms.
Brown to tour with her.
When the gig ended 10 years later, Ms. Brown returned to Michigan. She
took any job she could get.
"I played in Moose lodges and the Eagles and the Elks," she said.
She also worked in supper clubs, sometimes with big stars.
Then in 1991, she was crowned Ms. Senior Michigan, and a whole new
world opened to her: entertaining seniors.
She became the opening act for the Senior Show at the Macomb Center
for the Performing Arts, Clinton Township. She did it for 12 years.
She also performed at the Windsor Senior Jubilations Show.
Her last appearance was at a restaurant in Oakland County.
"It was last year at Christmas," her friend Dennis Salley said
Tuesday. He met Ms. Brown when he was 14 and had the same vocal coach
she did. He became the son she never had, and they occasionally
Ms. Brown was born Downriver and adopted when she was 4 months old.
She never knew who her birth parents were.
She grew up in Lincoln Park, and when she was at St. Patrick High
School in Wyandotte, she got a part in a school play. But her
ultraconservative mother didn't approve, and she was out of show biz
for the next 15 years.
After high school, she got a job working the line at the McCord Gasket
Co., now part of Federal-Mogul. In her early 30s, she started
moonlighting in local clubs, then quit to entertain full-time. She
never married and never had children.
The funeral will be at 10 a.m. today at the Hopcroft Funeral Home,
31145 John R Road, Madison Heights. Burial will be private.
Label location: Detroit, Michigan
Pressed by: Sound of Nashville
How 'Bout That
Whole Lotta' Lovin'