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Huntington Beach singer Brennley Brown releases ‘The Balcony Sessions’ live album

Brennley Brown, 18, performs from the balcony of her home in Huntington Beach on May 22.
Framed by an American flag fluttering in the wind, Brennley Brown, 18, performs from the balcony of her home for a large crowd gathered outside, up and down the 1100 block of Alabama St. in Huntington Beach on May 22.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Brennley Brown just wanted to perform on that mid-March day, when she ventured onto the balcony of her Huntington Beach home to play a few songs on her guitar.

The 18-year-old Huntington Beach country music artist would continue doing so throughout the spring months.

What Brennley would come to call “the Balcony Sessions” were born.

Every Friday evening through May, a crowd that grew to more than 100 people would gather to hear her perform live music during the coronavirus pandemic.

Brennley, a former finalist on “The Voice,” has released a live album to commemorate those times. “The Balcony Sessions: Live from Alabama Street” came out on Friday, and Brennley performed one more official show that evening to celebrate the release.

“The songs that are on the live album are really the songs that I felt like captured what the Balcony Sessions were all about,” Brennley said. “The first track is ‘What a Wonderful World,’ and that was always a song I would sing every week. I felt like it reminded people that there is beauty in our world. Even in this crazy time, we can remind ourselves of just the beauty of nature, and the beauty of the moments of just sitting outside and listening to live music. That was the Balcony Sessions, right? I think capturing those moments on the live album was really special.”

The eight-track album was produced by her Grammy Award-winning producer Luke Wooten, who flew out from Nashville to record the May 29 edition of the Balcony Sessions. Other songs on the album include covers of “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran and “River” by Joni Mitchell. The album concludes with Brennley’s version of “God Bless America.”

With a large social distancing sign in front of her, Brennley Brown, 18, performs on May 22.
With a large social-distancing sign in front of her, Brennley Brown, 18, performs from the balcony of her home on Alabama Street in Huntington Beach on May 22.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Brennley, who has been leading online worship on Sundays during the pandemic for megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship, said she had fun throughout her time with the Balcony Sessions.

“I love writing music and playing original songs, but I think [playing cover songs] was one of the most fun things about the Balcony Sessions for me personally,” she said. “Messing around and playing with so many different genres and not being bound by that, I think that was one of the coolest things about the Balcony Sessions. I was literally going from a Fleetwood Mac cover to an original song to a gospel song. It was always full of different genres, and I wanted to do that. Everybody that would show up probably had their specific taste in music, and I hope that for at least one of the songs they’d be like, ‘Oh yeah, I love that song.’”

The county had 886 new coronavirus cases Monday, bringing the total to 40,527, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Brennley had her full band with her for many of the pandemic performances, but she said Friday’s was a strictly acoustic set, just like how the Balcony Sessions began. She said a highlight was performing the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” with her grandfather, Kip Kruse, during the show. Kruse taught her how to play the song when she was about 8 years old, she said.

Like usual, Brennley reminded the crowd several times during the set to stay socially distant.

Ryan Lum, a 19-year-old Huntington Beach resident, saw Brennley perform live for the first time on Friday.

“It was a good mix in her show between her own work and cover songs,” Lum said. “I thought [the show] was really good. It was definitely a safe environment, and it seemed like all of the people were really happy to see some live music, especially with everything going on.”

Brennley Brown, 18, performs from the balcony of her home for a large crowd in Huntington Beach on May 22.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Brennley has more projects in the works. She plans to release her self-titled EP on Sept. 17, after dropping the single “One More Hallelujah” in February. She is doing work on a new Netflix show, though she can’t divulge the details just yet.

She said she plans to move to Nashville early next year to continue her country music career. But, she said, don’t be surprised if there are more impromptu Balcony Sessions from her patio on Alabama Street before then.

“I really feel like I’ve found my love for music again,” Brennley said. “Through the Balcony Sessions, it’s kind of lit a fire under me in my music journey moving forward. That’s really ultimately what music is supposed to do — unite and heal. Through my music and my lyrics, I hope to always do that. The Balcony Sessions have taught me that’s what music can offer people. That’s how powerful music can be.”

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