Maxine Brown News and Recipes
New CD, entitled “Soft as the Voice of an Angel” highlights many of The Browns’ top songs.
Order direct from the publisher.
My Story About Maxine Brown
By John Dersham – September 2012
John Dersham is a photographer and writer. He is currently the Executive Director of Tourism in Northeast Alabama. John writes a weekly column for the Fort Payne Times Journal. John’s photography can be seen in books and travel brochures throughout the southeast. John was a Regional Manager for Eastman Kodak for 30 years. During his tenure John’s photography hung in offices and on factory walls throughout Kodak. John teaches two-day photography workshops six times a year. John and his wife Kyle live on Lookout Mountain in Alabama near the Georgia and Tennessee lines. They have two children Jennifer and JAD and two granddaughters Tristan and Aris.
In everyone’s life there are people you meet along the way that are magical. There is something distinctly different about them than anyone else you have ever met. They come along very rarely and they show up in your life without any expectation and often without any known reason. They have this special energy, they are inquisitive and sparkling. They are insightful and they are able to view the world in a more defined and well explained fashion. These people bring something into your life unplanned and unexpected. They are someone you grow to admire for things they do, for the things they say and they impact your life in a measurable and positive way. They do this without any attempt to be intentional or influential. It is just who they are. They are interesting and connected to life and they have a passion and a real noticeable zest for their endeavors. In my life I have had people like this cross my path for a short while and some for a lifetime. They are acquaintances, friends, co workers or family members. We are all blessed to have these rare people in our lives.
Over the last 43 years I have gotten to know one of these people. Her name is Maxine Brown and she is one third of the legendary music trio The Browns, whom topped the charts in Pop, Country and even R&B music in the 50’s and 60’s. You would know them from The Three Bells, The old Lamplighter and Scarlet Ribbons.
I first met Maxine in November of 1969. The Browns were no longer performing together on a regular basis but on this day Maxine was doing a concert with her brother Jim Ed. At that time Maxine had a solo hit called Sugar Cane County, a song she wrote. She and Jim Ed sang their current solo hits at that concert and they did a few of the Brown’s songs together. I was in college then and was a photographer for the yearbook. I was a fan of the Browns going back to my childhood in the 50’s. The concert was in a near-by town so I went to see the show. I actually arrived at my destination before Jim Ed and Maxine. I saw Jim Eds bus pulled up along the side of the road. I could tell they were trying to find their way to the auditorium. I had already found it so I walked up to the bus and as I approached the door opened and there was Jim Ed driving the bus and Maxine was sitting on the couch near the front of the bus. They invited me in. I introduced myself and invited them to follow me to the location of the concert. Maxine began asking me questions very inquisitively as to how I knew where to go and where I was from and what brought me there. She had this sparkly, inquisitive interested manor about her, I could tell at a glance she was one of those very special people who was interested in everybody and was reading my story as I looked at her. They put on a great show and I went back to my dorm. Three years later I had decided to move to Nashville to try to be a songwriter. I had been writing songs for a couple years so I ventured out to give it a try. I had found out Maxine and Bonnie had a recording studio in Little Rock Arkansas where she lived. I figured if I went there first she might tell me who to talk to when I got to Nashville. I was living in Columbia Missouri at the time, but on Feb 2 1972 I began my move to Nashville side tracking a little to go through Little Rock to get there. It was the cold wintery morning of Feb 3 1972 when I showed up at Maxine and Bonnie’s studio, unannounced! There were several people working in this very nice large recording studio. I inquired if Maxine was there, it was still early. They said no but she’d be in soon. When she arrived a few minutes later all bundled up in a long coat and boots I introduced myself again. Maxine invited me to sit down with her. I told her what I was doing and why I came to see her first. Maxine wanted to know my whole story. She was so interested in me, she sparkled at the whole concept of me making this Nashville move and coming to see her first. I could not wait to ask her questions about her career but she seemed far more interested in my story and how she could help me. Now that I have gotten to know Maxine much better over the last few years I am no longer surprised about the interest she took in me or the help she offered. I had a bunch of songs with me, mostly lyrics that I was trying to get my melodies worked out. Maxine liked my lyrics and thought I had some potential. She wrote a letter for me to carry to her brother Jim Ed as an introduction but also asked him to find some contacts for me once in Nashville. Maxine was as nice and helpful as anyone could be. We talked for a long time. The next day I arrived at Jim Ed’s office in the Faron Young building in Nashville. He too was very cordial and invited me in for a chat. I showed him the letter Maxine sent with me. He made some calls to hook me us with some writers and musicians. Jim Ed even called my mother from his office to let her know I had arrived safely. Over the next four years I wrote songs for A.S.C.A.P and had a few published and recorded but never the big hit. I got married and finally I decided paying bills was an important thing to do so I moved on to another career.
Over the years I met Maxine a few more times but in recent years I have gotten to know her as a friend. There is no surprise for me in that she is exactly the way she struck me early in life. She is very bright, humorous, and very disciplined about her personal and career goals. Maxine is an excellent communicator and an award winning author. If you have not read her Arkansas Press best seller called “Looking Back to See”, it is a must read named after a song she wrote and of which she and Jim Ed had a career launching hit in 1954. Maxine chronicles the career of The Browns interwoven with fascinating stories of the Nashville scene as it was in the fifties and sixties with many stories about the people who made country music loved worldwide. Maxine has a great website too, www.themaxinebrown.com. On her site she has some wonderful writing in the form of newsletters, recipes and other information and pictures. Maxine has a wonderful memory too; her gift to write allows her to tell us some great stories of the golden years of country music and its cast of stars and characters.
The Browns Maxine, Bonnie and Jim Ed have provided a great amount of joy in my life with their music. Their music is sweet and pure, their harmonies unmatched and so tight it sounds like three part harmony coming out of one voice. In addition The Browns are the kind of people whose lives match the lyrical character of the great songs they sang. They were raised to be honest, hardworking individuals with a great amount of moral character…and that Maxine; well she is one of those special magical people who have had a wonderfully favorable impact on my life and many others just by being herself.
So many request from fans wanting a certain recipe from Momma Brown. Coconut Cream and Rice Pudding are the most requested.
1. COCONUT CREAM:
1 1/2 Cups Milk (scalded)
3/4 Cup Sugar
3 Egg Yokes (beaten)
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Self Rising Flour
Pinch of Salt
1/2 Stick Butter
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 Box Coconut (or package)
1 Pie Crust (baked)
USE A DOUBLE BOILER: Scald Milk. Add Sugar & Salt, stir well. Cook over medium heat until smooth & creamy. In a separate bowl, beat egg yokes with some of the hot mixture. Pour back into double boiler, stirring constantly until smooth and hot. Add 1/4 cup four, & self rising flour to thicken. (if needed, add a little more self rising flour). Remove from heat, add butter & vanilla. Let cool. Line the baked Pie Crust with plenty of coconut. Pour mixture into pie shell. Top with Meringue and rest of coconut. Place in oven until Meringue is nice & brown.
2. Momma Brown’s Special RICE PUDDING:
3 Cups Cooked Rice (1 cup un-cooked, cooked according to package
to make 3 cups)
2 Cups Sugar
5 Egg Yokes
3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Self Rising Flour
1 Large Can Evaporated Milk
1 Stick Butter
1 Cup Raisins
Pinch of Salt
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
Beat Eggs. Add Sugar & Flour, mix well. Add Milk, Vanilla, Salt, cooked rice, raisins and melted butter. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake at 400 for about 40 minutes or until set.
MERINGUE TOPPING (for Rice Pudding)
5 Egg Whites, beaten stiff
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
Add Sugar & Vanilla to well beaten egg whites. Pile on top of Rice Pudding. Sprinkle a little nutmeg on top. Let brown.
3. Fruit Cake
(It may be a little early to think about Fruit Cake. This recipe is one that has been handed down through many generations of the Tuberville Family. I has become a family tradition. I can remember my grandma Tuberville looking at this recipe on an old yellow worn out piece of paper with the directions barely visible. Down through the years coconut, pineapple and nuts were added to this recipe. Grandma had all the kids cracking Hickory Nuts long before time to make this cake. It was all the nuts we had. Hickory nuts are hard to crack and even harder to pick out. Just knowing we would have this as part of our Christmas made it all worth while. We may not have gotten many toys or gifts, but we always had a JAPANESE FRUIT CAKE.
1/2 Cup Butter (or other good shortening)
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon each: Cloves, Cinnamon, Allspice
1 Cup Black Walnuts, or English Walnuts (or a little of both)
1 Cup Pear or Peach Perserves, or Blackberry Jam
1/2 Cup Raisins.
Cream Sugar & Butter together, add beaten eggs. Sift all dry ingredients together. Mix Soda & Buttermilk together, add alternately with the dry ingredients. Add Nuts & Perserves. Mix well. Cook in 3 loaves at 350 degrees or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. It it is sticky, let it bake for another few minutes. (This makes 3 very large loaves)
1 Large Can Crushed Pineapple, drained (reserve juice)
1 Cup Sugar
2 Egg Whites, beaten stiff
1 Box Coconut (or package)
Combine juice & sugar. Cook until it spins a thread. Beat Egg whites until stiff. Gradually pour the Hot Syrup into the whites. Beating all the time until stiff. Then, add about l/2 package Coconut. Spread some of the Pineapple between layers, then add some of the icing between each layer, then some of the Coconut. Cover the entire cake with icing and coconut. Add some Pecans halves to the top.
(This is not the type of fruit cake that has to be made ahead of time, you will want to start eating this immediately. Should you have any left over, you can freeze it, it will be even better. just warm it up, and enjoy).