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Huntley Brown Concert Pianist: March 11 at 7:00 pm
February 19, 2012
Huntley Brown grew up in a Christian home on the island of Jamaica. His parents, Myrtle and Alpheus Brown, taught him what it means to be a Christian, and at an early age he accepted Christ. Without knowing how to read music, he learned to play the piano by imitating his brothers. His father, who played the accordion and a little piano, gave Huntley some basic instructions, and he also received instruction from Paul Tucker, a family friend. Mostly though, he learned by listening to different recordings.
After graduating from Iona High School, Huntley started to play keyboard in various hotel bands and piano bars in Jamaica. It was great money for a teenager, and he tried to justify being a Christian while playing in the clubs, but he couldn't--the atmosphere of the clubs and his Christian ideals didn't match up. He kept remembering his mother's words: "Huntley, only what is done for Christ will last." Soon he prayed and rededicated his life to Christ and started to spend time daily in the Word and in prayer. This decision led him to the United States, where he enrolled at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois. Four years later Huntley graduated with a bachelor's degree in piano performance. He then went on to Northern Illinois University, where he earned a master's degree in piano performance and pedagogy. While at NIU, Huntley met the lovely Annette Chestnut, a fellow Caribbean student from Barbados, and following graduation, he and Annette were married. They now reside in Aurora, Illinois (just outside of Chicago), along with their four daughters, Natalie, Natasha, Nicole and Nadia.
Huntley's music ministry has taken him all over the world, with TV, radio, and concert appearances in Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, China, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Grenada, Holland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Palestine, South Korea, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, St. Maarten, St. Vincent, Slovakia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine and Wales.
In the United States, he has performed from coast to coast with ministry opportunities at churches of every size and denomination from the Crystal Cathedral to Living Word Christian Center to Willow Creek Community Church to Big Rock Baptist Church. Huntley was the artist in residence for the Total Living Network in Chicago with hosts Jerry & Shirley Rose for many years.
He recently performed at one of Bill Gaither's popular Homecoming concerts. He was also the regular crusade pianist for the recently retired Dr. Ralph Bell, an associate evangelist with the Billy Graham Association. He is now the pianist for Ruth Graham and Friends Ministries and also ministers with the Franklin Graham team.
In the past few years, God has opened the door for Huntley to add a new facet to his ministry, teaching and offering seminars on music and worship. He often travels with the international school of evangelism team of the Graham Association, for whom he lectured and performed at the Amsterdam 2000 world conference on evangelism. Huntley was also a lecturer and performer at the First International Gospel Music Festival in Italy. He also regularly returns to his undergraduate alma mater Judson University where he serves as a guest lecturer in the Worship Arts program. Here he offers his insights and experiences to students who will someday soon be leading the Body of Christ in worship all around the world. So proud of Huntley is Judson University that its alumni association named him Alumnus of the Year in 2003.
Huntley's electrifying playing earned him the Top Caribbean Gospel Instrumentalist Award for 2005 and 2006. In 2009 he was appointed musical ambassador for CTS TV Station in Seoul, Korea, and in 2010 he was inducted into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame and is the youngest person to be inducted into the hall of fame.
Huntley is an ordained minister. He was ordained in 2007 by the Evangelical Church Alliance International and now serves on the board. Huntley is currently chairman of the board of Covenant Christian School in Aurora Ill., and also serves as the girls basketball team coach.
Huntley's music has been described as inspired, anointed, powerful, and explosive. He has recorded many CD's that cover a wide range of musical styles. People are not only impressed with his incredible technique; they are touched by his deep love for Jesus. As one friend has said, "Huntley plays as if God is whispering in his ears." Huntley's ministry extends from churches to auditoriums to colleges to opera houses to gang-infested urban high schools--where, in one case, a student body was allowed to assemble, under police guard, for the first time in four years to hear Huntley, and responded with rapt attention and wild appreciation, including a deafening, heart-rending standing ovation.
Huntley's other interests include basketball (as he likes to say, "I can't shoot, but I can dunk!") and Hapkido, one of the martial arts in which he holds a black belt. Many times he uses his martial arts skills to demonstrate spiritual truths to high school students. This is a ministry based on prayer, and Huntley realizes that to be effective as a musical ambassador for Christ, his spiritual life is more significant than his keyboard skills. Just as he has to practice piano every day, he has to spend time daily in the Word and in prayer. Music is an offering of praise, a gift that Huntley wants to give back to God. His continual prayer is that the glory of God will shine through the notes, and the Holy Spirit will send the music straight to the heart, drawing people to the abundance of life in Christ.