CLICK to see Br. John's interview on how he got the name, "Br. John" and how he became a student of his craft!
For over 25 years, John (Br. John) Anderson has dazzled audiences of all ages throughout the United States and the Caribbean, with his unique, brand of interactive stage enthusiasm and educational enrichment.
The youngest son, (living with a much younger sister), at times, he felt like an only child. However, growing up, with the great benefit of being surrounded by many elders and mentors, gave him the high reverence and respect for Senior "mature" Citizens. An is overwhelmed with humble graciousness whenever performing for this age audience today. "I felt, if I can gain the same wisdom they have at 70 and beyond in half the time. I'll be one smart dude who was really on to something powerful."
In his spare time, his imagination was fueled by the influence of watching lots of television (from PBS, Scooby Doo, Looney Tunes, Godzilla Monster movies to Lost In Space/Star Trek- back in the days before cable & reality TV madness), listening to lots, and lots of music, and reading lots & lots & lots & lots of books.
His single parent mother (a Sunday School Teacher, Daycare School Provider/ Entrepreneur) and a favorite Aunt, introduced creative and fun ways to present Bible Stories and educate. It was this experience that John first realized "you could learn and still have fun and don't think you are learning".
Growing up, John excelled academically in formal education studies and in the area of theological interests, graduating with top honors in a Youth Bible academy program.
However, during those childhood years, his restless energy within (which today would have garnered him the label "ADHD") manifested it's way into him creating private, daily, epic, adventures involving interactive play with just himself and his many plastic action figures and toy miniature soldiers.
Diagnosed in his late teens as having Bipolar II Disorder, Br. John dived more into the arts (theater, comedy and music) for escape and expression. This was also used as a healthy vehicle to explore as Br. John says, "Why I Feel & Do The Things Some People Dislike. But Do Not Have An Answer For Them Self".
It was in his 20s, Br. John began to explore the world of standup & improv comedy. He opened for such legendary and up & coming acts as Renaldo Ray, Judy Tenuta, Louie Anderson and the late Robin Williams.
From there, Br. John followed the stage call into theater. After several years of lending his talents in the Church Of God In Christ State Fine Arts Dept., Br. John co-founded the community arts project "The Re-Acting Theater Company". After 5 years, he was invited to join the professional repertoire entity "The Metropolitan Ebony Theater", as it's general manager. From there and beyond, Br. John gained the opportunity to perform in many classic and original productions throughout the country like: "God's Trombone", "The Colored Museum", "Do Lord Remember Me", "Joe
Turner Has Come And Gone",
"Fences", "The Hindu And The
Cowboy", Sax, Lust and All That Jazz", and "Truth Stands" and the world renown, one-person, audience interactive production, "Red Rabbit, White Rabbit" by Iranian playwrite Nassim Soleimanpour. Br. John has also had the pleasure to work in prestigious theatrical companies like, The KC Repertory Theater,
Metropolitan Ensemble Theater, Potluck Productions, Melting Pot Theater, Theater For Young America. As a professional storyteller, he is a member of the National Storytelling Network(NSN) and River and Prairie Storyweavers (RAPS).
A far cry from his, shy, low self-worth/esteem days of when, as Br. John states. "For some peculiar reason, I strongly disliked my voice." Today, he has enjoyed expressing his talents as a play writer, sought after voice over artist, T.V. commercial actor, Master Of Ceremonies and Keynote Speaker.
An avid lover of Jazz & Classic R&B, Soul and Rock-n-Roll, Br. John finds the time to have fun leading tribute, theme bands, "The Brass Rewind", "The Trinity Jazz Ensemble"
(Gospel Jazz quintet) and the unplugged, acoustic "Br. John Duo" ft. guitarist-Rick Cole.
"I remember growing up listening, grooving and singing to all this music-in my room-either on the radio. Or, by 45 and 33 1/3 LP vinyl records. I even had a few 8 track tapes-talk about Old Skool", states John. "I use to imagine myself on stage, jamming with my favorite music groups and artists, in front of thousands of fans. I guess you might say I was a closet crooner. Now, in a way, it's kind of a dream come true (as a tribute artist), singing to people who relate and appreciate the kind of music I love, while helping many fans and friends reminisce and bring back their personal, good memories."
Currently, Br. John is also CEO of Rajpa Motivational Ministries, a multi-media empowerment, coaching firm specializing in the promotion of literacy empowerment and healthy, Intra-personal Communications Skills.
Br. John is a practicing:
*Holds BS degree & Certified Biblical/Christian Counselor
*Intra-Personal Communications Skills Coach
-With an emphasis on personal enhancement from a multi-directional,
Below are several common questions that have been presented to me over the last 25 years of professional stage experience. An these are my answers.
Q) Did you ever go to school to be a storyteller?
A) Yes, and no. I attended a university to be a news journalist (another type of storyteller). But, as far as the performing arts type (on stage in front of live audience). The only school I received was sitting and listening & learning valuable tips from professional storytellers with many years experience. Then, having the opportunity to practice telling with experienced tellers in front of a live audience.
Q) When did you see your first theatrical or storytelling concert?
A) I saw my first, live, professional play at a downtown theater. I was 6 years old on a school fieldtrip. It was a musical called "Oliver Twist". Still one of my favorite musicals even today! It was at that point that I wanted to be a professional actor.
My first storytelling concert was when I was in my late 20s. It was at a public library and Jim "Two Crows" Wallen was the storyteller. At that time I didn't know that you called it "storytelling". (Thanks Jim for being one of my mentors and now colleague).
*Also, special shout to Evester Roper, Tracy Milsap, Gladys Coggswell, Joyce Slater for those early days way back in helping to bring out the practicing Griot in me!
Q) When do you become a professional storyteller (or artist)
A) I'll give you the answer that 99.9999% of my colleagues (including me agree on). It's the day when you get paid for your gig?
Q) When and how often do you practice?
A) All the time and anywhere I can. (i.e.) When I'm sitting in an office waiting for an appointment. I'm thinking of ideas for a story or song. They can come from anywhere and anytime. Be sure to carry you a pen & paper (or phone note taking app) and have it ready for the muse of inspiration.
Q) How did you get the name "Brother (Br.) John?
A) Years ago, the church I was associate Children's Minister at. There was a 4 year girl who had a challenge in properly pronouncing my last name, "Anderson". So, one day, she came and ask me. "Hey, sir. Is it okay I call you Br. John instead of that other name of yours?" I was tickled with honor and gladly accepted her request. An the rest as the old saying goes "Is History".
Many Props to you Carrie M.
Q) Do you get paid for what you do? If so, how much do you charge for your services?
A) Yes, I do "get paid". The rate in which artists charge may vary from individual to individual. Check out the current, going standard rate of fee within your industry of interest. However, my general rule of thumb is this. Ask for enough to cover your expenses & bills and still have a little left over for you to enjoy with. Also, payment doesn't always have to come in the form of money (i.e. free meal, free valuable information,etc.). It can be a free and ideal opportunity to promote yourself to another gig that may lead to "Mo Money". So, at least, invest into some professional looking business cards.
Q) When was your first storytelling
A) Around 1991. A lady at my church asked me to do a skit for her son's, 5 year birthday party. First I hesitated, but readily agreed when she offered to pay me a cash stipend and free cake & ice cream.
Q) What was the most gratifying gig you've had?
A) Some years back (with the help of her librarian Aunt) I was ask by her 11 year old neice, to come and present a short, storytelling show for her mother, uncle and two younger siblings, in her family living room on Christmas day. As a token of appreciation (and fee) Her mother was highly appreciated and gave me a whole sweet potato pie. I thought, "Wow, what creativity to come up with a gift like that. An I'm the gift!"
Q) Most perculiar?
A) I had a gig to dress up as a clown and stand on a street corner, to wave and promote the grand opening of a new, automotive, service station nearby. Another time, I was contracted to don a lion costume and play the (Wizard Of Oz) Cowardly Lion for children with Down Syndrone at their annual, support conference, hosted at a four star hotel. The pay was good. But, now I have developed such a super, high respect for actors who do full time work as mascots, buskers and roving, costumed characters.
Q) When did you start singing?
A) Professionally, about 14 years ago. Starting with getting my feet warm on stage at a karaoke bar belting out the classic, John Cougar Mellancamp, "Hurts So Good".
Although, several people encouraged me to sing. For some strange reason I hated my voice. You may say, I had my own "Nat King Cole" experience per se'. I was performing a storytelling program for a group of seniors citizens and the show was beginning to flop out-bomb! Feeling desperate for a quick recovery-praying for a miracle. A voice suddenly rose up in my head, "Sing one of your mother's, favorite church songs". My mother had recently passed away. But, immediately I recalled and started belting out a tune I remember back in Sunday School, "Jesus Loves Me".
That, followed with several impromptu, a cappella tunes and medleys. The show turned out to be an was an instant success. At that moment, my confidence level shot up 150% and the rest again is "history".
*NOTE: During the early-mid 1990s, Br. John was part of the early days of the Gospel Rap/Hip Hop explosion, being part of a duo/group titled: Def J. & The New Jack Preacher. Eld. Samuel Lattimore was "The New Jack Preacher". Can you guess who "Def J." was-Duh?
Q) What is one of your bucket lists?
A) To ride my bicycle on the continent of Antarctica. Don't have to be long. Just a few feet with the penguins watching (me thermal geared up) bike fitted with some of those $60 dollar studded, snow tires.
Q) What is your favorite flavor?
A) Chocolate. I'm a true-to-heart- Chocaholic, Certified!
Q) If I could meet any famous person in the world. Who would that be?
A) The evangelist, Billy Graham. Many may not know. But, Billy (aka nicknamed-The Graham-ster)
*Helped support and put up bail money for Martin Luther King Jr. when he was arrested in several, Civil Rights demonstrations.
*Good friends with the late Robert Schuller (encouraged him to start his own TV ministry).
*Refused to join the late Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority".
*Has been a consultant and had personal audience with 12, sitting presidents-from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama.
*Repeatedly been on Gallup's list of "Most Admired Men and Women".
*One of celebrated talkshow journalist's-Larry King's "Top Favorite People To Interview".
Q) Why did you choose to do what you do for a career?
A) I get bored Soooooooooo easy!
I enjoy what I do. As a child, I use to dream of traveling and going places-seeing new sights and meeting people. Plus, I imagined being on stage, singing an acting in front of thousands of people. When I went to college. I enrolled into (what I believed I thought my major in life was to be) Journalism with a minor in Theater. I quickly lost interest in Journalism. Not because I wasn't learning how to tell or write a good story. I had a deep desire of wanting to create and tell my own stories. I am grateful for all my teachers and experience-sometimes super intense. It has only prepared me "For such a time as this".
Besides, I get to create and act out my own stories. Or, dive into an exciting, theatrical character part. Or, even teach and share what I have learned by way creative gameplay and music.
Q) What do you get out of what you do as an artist?
A) What I do, (Art) feeds my soul. Yes, getting paid for what I do is cool. Money may feed my bills and belly. But, when I go to bed at night. I have satisfying, peace and joy. Because, this is what I'm suppose to be and do. Also, I get real buzz of seeing and knowing my audience and fans are enjoying the high quality work & enthusiasm I bring to enrich & empower their life. It's like I say to many clients. "If I go to sleep on stage. You will also. You will not be bored!"
Top: Br. John portrays unscrupulous, bandleader "Slim Walker" in the KC Mystery Train Theater production-Sax, Lust and All That Jazz.
Above: Br. John portrays "Popz" in the original, Melting Pot Theater production- "Truth Stands" by Cynthia Hardeman.
Click for media description
Br. John as (living history portrayal)
Lt. Patrick Minor, one of the 1st
African American, US Army officers
to command troops in the US, Civil
*CLICK TO SEE
Br. John & Rick Cole
"The Br. John Duo"
"Good music, Good memories, Good fun!"
Intra-personal Communications Skills Coach
I've scratch this off my bucket list!
Yes, you are correct. That is a real,
Alligator I am helping to carry,
compliments of her trainer-Ken (the
Alligator Man) Henderson. (not shown)
Br. John celebrating a hometown win with KC Chiefs mascot, WOLFPACK.
AVID BOOK LOVER
Member of the River and Prairie
Click for feature guild article
*Br. John is also a member of
-Good Trouble KC: Addressing the issue
and establishing Police Re-Form.
As governing board member with this
national organization designed to
address racial in-equity through faith based
initiatives and platforms.
*BICYCLIST & GREEN
*ACTOR & CULTURAL
Proverbs 15:13- "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance."
Br. John has appeared and showcased at:
The American Jazz Museum, The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum of KC, Wonderscope Children's Museum of KC, The Women's Club of Minnesota, Mt. Angus Baptist Church/St. Mary's Parish, Jamaica,
The Gospel Music Workshop of America, J.P. Morgan Bank, Black & Veatch, KC Fringe Fest, St. Louis Fringe Fest, Plaza Art Fair, Art Westport Festival, Lost Arts Festival,
St. Louis Storytelling Festival, N.S.N. Fringe Festival, Winter Carnival-St. Paul, MN., Children's Peace Pavilion,
George Washington Carver Natl' Museum,
Battle of Island Mound Commemorative Monument, Nat'l Toy & Miniature Museum, Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival, Walk Back Through Time Living History Fest, Shoal Creek Living History Festival, Storytelling Celebration Festival of KC, World of Literature Fest (SF. California),
Ft. Leavenworth Frontier Army Museum, Jackson County Family Court,
MO. Humanities Council/Read From The Start, Young Audiences of KC., Kansas City Young Audiences, Compas YA., Springboard YA.,
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, U.S. Sprint, H&R Block, Synchrony Financial, Black & Veatch, A.F.S.C. Peace Fest, Santa-Cali-Gon Fest, Maple Leaf Fest, Un-Plaza Arts Festival and whole lot more exciting places!
Br. John has performed or opened for such legendary acts like:
Comedians-Judy Tenudo, Suzanna "Lucky Deluxe" Lee, Louie Anderson, Akintundo, Dick Gregary, Reynaldo Reye,
*Ipso Facto (Reggae Funk/Rock)
*Alex Abramavitz & His Swinging KC Jazz Band,
Fast Johnny Ricker Band.
As Well As
*Bloodstone (Legendary R&B/Funk Soul band),
*Jim (Mr. Stinky Feet) Cosgrove (Children's rocker/motivational speaker) *Mr. Kneel (Children's rapper/beatboxer, motivational speaker) *Dinosaur O'Dell (Children's Musician/Educator) *Aryana Nemati (Jazz Saxophonist/Recording Artist) *The Jazz Storytellers *Disciples Of Christ (Gospel Rap Group) *Bird Fleming & The Traditional Music Society, The Collective Ft. Br. John (Motown Tribute Band) *Myra Taylor (Swing Jazz legend) *Jane Goodall (Researcher/Speaker-Natl' Geographic fame)
*Stewart Witt Band *Mattie Stephanik (Youth peace poet/activist)
Br. John Has Served with:
*Storytelling Celebration -Steering Committee 2002-2012
*Ad Hoc Group Against Crime-Black Men Together
*ACTION COMMITTEE For SOCIAL CHANGE- Board Member
*Interwoven Congregations/Be The Bridge discussion facilitator
*CitiArts Youth Arts Program (2005-2007)
*Steering Committee-Jiggle Jam Children's Music Fest (2008-2011)
*Missouri Professional Development (MOPD) Speaker/Consultant
*Steering Committee-Raytown Martin Luther King Jr. Inter-Faith Celebration
*Executive Producer, Co-host-Legacy Alive Testify (internet radio program)
Click to hear shows
Br. John poses with his favorite, canine, reading friend-CLIFFORD the
BIG RED DOG.
Click for more info & to book the latest, interactive, educational, empowerment program
"Br. John's WHY BULLY ME SHOW".
*CLICK For Sample
of from this hit, long running, arts educator & program.
bringing Music, Math &
Literacy empowerment to thousands of students and children of all ages for over
Every 1st Friday @ The American Jazz Museum
"I enjoy what I do as
an artist, just as much as sharing what I do.
Art feeds my soul. Because, I can only give what I first am able to give and receive for myself."
Q) Br. John, how do you know so much about music and history?
A) I listen and love and appreciate different kinds of (music) styles, as well as the many artists who create it. As far as history? Well, I read lots of books and research lots of biographies. Then, I put the knowledge and information in a creative, fun way. This makes it easy to remember.
"If we don't learn the lesson, careful we will repeat the test."
CLICK For Br. John, independent movie segment:
"THIS IS ME, THIS IS KC".
Br. John has been honored with the following awards:
*Outstanding Young Man of America (1988)
*ACSC Outstanding Community Service Award (1985)
*HateBuster "Don Quixote Award" (2008)
*Outstanding Small Business Leader (2010)
*KC Fringe Festival "Best of Fringe Venue" (2013, 2014)
Dec. 22, 2015:
Accompanied on piano by Everett Freeman, (Not shown) James Ward-bass, Mike Warren-drums & Jazz legend Dwight Foster-Sax), Br. John delivers tunes at the famed "Blue Room" in Kansas City's historic , 18th St. Vine District- (Click for video) facebook.com/br.john)
*Nat King Cole
*Doo Wop, Classic 70s, 80s
"I've literally known this man my whole life...Watched this man play 4 different part in one play. Now, he's up @ my daughter's school and it's so dope to me that she get's this same knowledge and wisdom...THANK YOU BRO JOHN FOR AT LEAST 32 YRS OF SERVICE."
-Brodric El'Negro Cason