At the age of three Austin Brown stepped on stage with mom Rebbie Jackson during her concert in Japan, took one look at the enormous crowd and hustled backstage. He certainly wasn’t the spotlight-grabbing type of Jackson fans were used to.
Twenty-one years later, Brown has his stage fright in check, his dance moves polished and has released a new hand-clapping, bass heavy single “Target Practice,” from his debut album 85.
A natural musician who plays guitar, keyboards, bass and drums, Brown, 24, grew up in Agoura Hills, Calif., where Uncle Michael coached him on his harmonies and Auntie Janet took him on drives and peppered him with advice.
Here are five things to know about the King of Pop’s musical nephew.
1. He’s a Pro at Gymnastics
With the desire to take his stage show to the next level, Brown started taking gymnastics classes about a year ago. “I told [producer] Rodney [Jerkins], ‘I’m going to flip.’ He was like, ‘You’re out of your mind.’ So I started taking footage of it and I was like, ‘Look I can do a back flip.’ ”
2. Alcohol Helps Him Hit the High Notes
His tune “All I Need” requires a heavy falsetto and to relax his pipes, Brown popped a bottle of wine. “I don’t drink at all, but I’m like, ‘Get me some wine’ and I loosened up.”
3. Auntie Janet Is His Best Friend
“She is the person I talk to the most in my family,” he says. “She knows everything about me. If I couldn’t tell my mom, I would tell her. She would take drives with me and talk to me like I was a normal person. When you’re a kid it’s cool to talk to a relative who doesn’t look at you like a kid. She really took the time to spend with me and be a support system. I would call her about problems at school and she would give me sound advice. She’s a great listener.”
4. He Was a Bratty Little Brother
Big sisters Stacy and Yashi used to yell at him when he’d dig through their CD collection. “I would listen to their music like Depeche Mode, Eurythmics, Billy Idol and Tears for Fears, who I loved.”
5. He Wants Rihanna to Remake His Mom’s Hit
“I absolutely love [that song],” he says of “Centipede.” “My uncle Michael wrote it and he and I talked about it years ago and he said it was one of his favorite songs that he ever worked on. I wish somebody would redo it, like Rihanna.”
Click here to listen to Austin Brown’s first single, the Rodney Jerkins (Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga) produced “Target Practice.”