When country music superstar Keith Urban was trying to get his first recording contract, many Nashville record execs suggested the crooner unplug his electric guitar and lower his voice. But Anastasia Brown, who was representing Urban, told the Aussie to stay plugged in, and to keep plugging away to get a record deal. Today, Urban is one of country’s biggest acts.
It is that kind of determination that helped Brown quickly earn her stripes in Nashville. Now Brown is also trying to conquer Hollywood.
Perhaps best known as the quick-witted judge on USA’s “Nashville Star,” a Music City version of “American Idol,” Brown has turned producer and boasts a handful of films in development and is working on creating a network TV series. She also is supervising several film soundtracks as part of her partnership with entrepreneur Eric Geadelmann in the Nashville-based 821 Entertainment, where she is president.
“Every week is so different,” says Brown of her diverse interests. “I can never predict what will happen. It seems like nothing likes to happen on your timeline. But you constantly need to be proactive.”
Brown is also supervising the music for the Warner Bros. film “August Rush” starring Robin Williams, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Terrence Howard; and “Daltry Calhoun,” the Quentin Tarantino-produced pic for Miramax. 821 also has Nicolas Cage and 50 Cent on tap for a feature film version of the 2003 documentary “The Dance,” the true-life story of a boxing coach in a Louisiana prison.
Brown got her start in 1994 working with Miles Copeland, the manager of the Police and Sting, first as a manager with Firstarts, Copeland’s management outfit. She later helped Copeland launch a Nashville outpost of his Ark 21 Records. During her tenure there, she also worked with then-clients Sting and Peter Frampton.
“She seemed to stand out,” recalls Copeland of their first meeting at a party in Nashville. “There was a spark, and she was wired into the Nashville scene. I like to think out of the box, and Nashville is a big box. But Anastasia had no preconceptions. I liked that about her.”
As A&R VP for Ark 21 Nashville, Brown signed to the label and exec produced Waylon Jennings’ “Closing in on the Fire,” and Leon Russell’s “Legend in My Time.” She also exec produced the tribute record to Hank Marvin and the Shadows, “Twang.”
Brown says she adheres to the same advice she dispenses to “Nashville Star” contestants: “Don’t be afraid to try something. With every success there is a whole bunch of failures.”