Jeni Parris Brady was one of the many integral champions of the local Annapolis music scene and perhaps, the ‘Queen of All Tastemakers’. On second thought, to call her a ‘tastemaker’ is to minimize her impact. She shared her love of Annapolis musicians and our vibrant culture by creating Naptownmusic, a significant contribution to this city and one that should never be taken for granted. In so doing, she helped the music scene evolve into a bonafide music community where everyone supports each other and true collaboration is a part of the mix.
Jeni Parris Brady made a career working in media for local magazines. She seized the opportunity to put her passions into practice utilizing her education in marketing to create her own media platform that served to publish an expansive monthly music schedule highlighting the variety of bands and singer/songwriters in the area with words and pictures and live performance videos. Established in 2012, Naptownmusic is the source for all things music in Annapolis and the surrounding area.
Angela Charles here, Sweet Leda there, Pressing Strings here, Swampcandy there, music festival here, child prodigies banding together there, What’s Dope Open Mic Night, fundraiser too – these are all musical experiences she covered over the course of three to four nights in a row, which typically included several shows in one night. Her coverage was so vast, I’d swear when I was out hopping around town to take in as much music as I could in one night, I was seeing double and that wasn’t the drinks. That was Jeni – here, there, and everywhere with cameras in hand. For those who would approach her at a show and say hi, she would quietly smile cueing those excited fellow music appreciators to be respectful of her process and the bands’ music itself.
Not only has she helped to evolve this small city’s musical community, but she has also documented the progression of numerous bands and solo performers as they have developed. In some instances, because Naptownmusic featured certain bands on the platform, Jeni helped to put said band on the proverbial ‘map’. If you were to ask Jeni herself about that aspect of Naptownmusic today, I’m sure she would modestly say something along the lines of, ‘I just record the music. I can’t take credit for their musicianship’.
Jeni Parris Brady passed in April 2019 of cancer. She may be gone but Naptownmusic is here to stay forever. Naptownmusic was after YouTube, but it was before Vine and Facebook Live Videos and its mission devoid of competition was ahead of its time.
“Time goes by so quickly. Enjoy it. They grow up fast!”,
Jeni said during our last exchange in person after introducing our children to each other. Her son was officially a young adult and my daughter was nearing toddlerhood as the songstress Angela Charles was playing in the background during a series that Jeni helped to book on the outdoor stage of what is one day to become the Maryland Theatre for the Performing Arts. It was a gorgeous spring Thursday evening and her spirit and resolve had not been shaken. She was her usual self as I knew her except for the unfortunate fact that she had just learned of her cancer diagnosis unbeknownst to me at the time. “Things are good. I was really sick for a while but now I’m feeling better. I’m just busy and tired”, she said. “Thanks for everything you do. See you at the next show…”, I replied. We couldn’t hug each other goodbye because as usual, she had cameras in tow. She gracefully excused herself to get a photo that she needed to publish on the Naptownmusic Facebook page later that weekend. After that brief encounter, we continued to communicate via Facebook message, text, and email as she always dutifully helped to promote events I was helping to publicize. She did so happily and made it seem effortless. Jeni made you feel like you were her main priority, which was truly incredible as she was helping so many of us simultaneously.
For those who want to pay forward the multitude of Jeni’s good deeds packed into too short of a lifetime and support the musical community that is Annapolis while honoring her memory, I strongly encourage all who listen and view Naptownmusic content in the comfort of their own homes to buy the musicians’ work. Get the latest albums and/or vinyl records or download a song or two after you’ve ordered their merch. I also urge you to make a point of telling the club owners and restauranteurs that host these musicians you are grateful for them giving these phenomenal musicians a stage so the bands can play on.
Now at the helm, as donned by the ‘Queen of Natpownmusic’ is Charles Kavoossi and a team of six other colleagues all dividing and conquering this land full of troubadours. It is quite a huge undertaking. Kavoossi explains how proud he is to carry the torch,
“Jeni was amazing. She helped create comradery among musicians that wasn’t there before. We were always friendly and now we are friends, thanks to Jeni. I was honored when she asked me to take over Naptownmusic for her.”
Similarly, Charles has that quiet modest grace about him – the same vibe that Jeni put out into the world while sharing her passion. Charles Kavoossi is an ace musician who has been playing music since childhood. He really burst out onto the local music scene seven years ago. He has honed his chops as they say and is definitely worthy of his role in managing the production of Naptownmusic. Kavoossi still performs all over the place and you can hear his songs often on 89.7 FM WTMD, an NPR affiliate station out of Baltimore.
The Naptownmusic family recently hosted JeniJam, a music festival to honor our Queen’s legacy. It is this blogger’s opinion that the one-day music festival needs to grow into a weekend-long celebration and become an annually recurring tradition.