Grammy Award winner Alison Brown to visit M-Shop

Matthew Peelen

Southern California may not be the traditional setting to start a career as a bluegrass prodigy, but for Golden State native Alison Brown life has always been far from traditional.

With the possible exception of a Grammy Award, Brown’s resume is full of accomplishments not usually associated with musicians. Brown graduated with degrees in literature and history from Harvard University. She went on to receive her masters’ from UCLA, then spent two years as a public finance worker.

Presently Brown fronts a quartet of critically acclaimed bluegrass musicians who are touring in support of her new album, “Fair Weather,” which has garnered favorable nods from critics all over the music industry.

Beyond her expertise on the creative end of the music business, Brown is also the co-founder of the Nashville record label Compass Records. The label has also received its share of accolades from major media outlets, even recently being identified as the subject of a case study in entrepreneurship for the Harvard Business School.

Even NASA has seen it fit to showcase Brown’s melodic talents as wake-up calls for astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

“There is a tune on `Fair Weather’ called `Girl’s Breakdown’ that I specifically wrote for an astronaut friend of mine,” Brown says. “We’ve actually had our music used on three or four different missions’ wake-up calls now.”

Although her solo career brought her to the final frontier, it was her earlier work as a member of country-bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss’ Union Station band that earned Brown her first trip to the Grammys. Krauss’ 1990 album “I’ve Got That Old Feeling” snagged an award for best bluegrass album. More recently her guest work Jerry Douglas’ “The Great Dobro Sessions” earned her another trophy for best bluegrass album.

“It was really cool. We saw [13 year-old rap star] Lil’ Bow Wow,” Brown half-jokes about the Grammy experience.

While entertaining astronauts in the depths of outer space and rubbing elbows with child rap stars are only part of her extraordinary list of accomplishments, it’s clear that Brown has every intention of making that list even longer.