I grew up listening to some distinguish voices on ELBC Radio Station which was located at the Ministry of Information. One of them was the voice of Sherman Brown; a man of many talents. I was privileged to have met the radio and television show business man several times, because I frequented this ministry as a child. And my mother used to work for the Ministry of Information (MOI), so I pretty much grew up at MOI. In fact those days it was called the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs, Tourism, and Broadcasting. And Sherman Brown was among the household names in radio land Liberia like Jonathan Ruffer, Henry Andrews, Joseph Gbayou, and Jesse Karnley.
ELBC and ELTV were located on the left wing of the third floor at the MOI; right above the Graphic Arts Department. I saw lots of professional broadcasters in this building including Joseph Gbayou, Wilmot Stubberfield, Martin Brown, and even Victoria Ruffer. Those days our next door neighbor in Logan Town, Mr. Sam Bonner worked at ELTV. And later did I know that one day I would not only come face to face with Sherman Brown, but would appear on his TV Show “Weekend Special”.
In 1979 ELTV was operating in their new building in Paynesville and they had opened an FM radio station (89.9 FM). I had learned how to play guitar and was singing oldies but goodies and wanted to appear on the “Weekend Special”, because it was the show that almost everyone watched those days for TV entertainment.
I went to ELTV to talk to Mr. Brown but someone directed me to his production office which was located on Benson Street in central Monrovia. His show was already planned for that week but he allowed me to audition, and was so pleased with my performance that he scheduled me to perform the following week on his TV show “Weekend Special”. I sang two songs on his show, My lovely Elizabeth and Advice to School Girls by Sooluman E. Rogie. It was my first introduction to show business which later harnessed my desire to become a broadcaster, because after watching the recording of Sherman Brown’s show, I wanted to be in show business.
After the recording of the show at ELTV studios, Mr. Brown paid me US$50.00 which was a lot of money for a little Logan Town boy like me. In no time one of my friends in our community who watched my performance on television contacted me about forming a musical group to perform on “Weekend Special”. My childhood friend Emmanuel Abalo who had learned to play the organ came to my house and suggested that we form a musical group, which we did and named it “The Degrees”. Two of Emmanuel’s friends who attended Tubman High, Sam Harris and Sam Jackson, joined the group. And in no time I was back on Weekend Special with “The Degrees” singing ‘Ribbons of Blue’ and ‘By the rivers of Babylon’, and we became the talk of the local communities because of Weekend Special.
Now, those days if you were privilege to perform on Sherman's show in TV land Liberia, you became well known. Furthermore, you had to be talented in order to perform on a TV show like Weekend Special.
I can still remember the promotional clip (promo) for the show. It was a black and white photo art work of Sherman Brown on the left, with a caption on the top right that went: "Weekend Special”, and beneath it, “With Sherman Brown”.
One great thing about Sherman was that he was always looking for untapped talents; talents that society didn’t know existed to bring on television, though other well known talents frequented his show.
And what I enjoyed about him was the variety of slots he had on his show. There was a slot called ‘Question Box’; this was the slot where he quizzed a contender on different subjects or just to see if the candidate had a very high IQ. He would let you pick up a folded paper with written questions from a box while looking in the opposite direction, and then he would read the questions to you and give you about 10 seconds to give the correct answers, but you have to answer two or all three questions correctly in order to win a price; so you had 10 seconds per question.
He had a way of making folks in Liberia TV land laugh whenever he was laughing at something that was funny on his show. We used to sit home and get really entertained by Sherman Brown, because he knew how to advertise and describe products or in short, produce a show.
He was also a musician, and could play the guitar very well. I remember one time he appeared on the show with his guitar, his wife, and folks from his neighborhood in Brewersville and sang a song called, “The Bulldog in the pan and the frog is in the pool”. It was so funny, and at times he would laugh at himself and for us in Liberia TV land that was entertainment.
From Pay-Me Weah, to Jacob Dweh; from Tecumseh Roberts, to the rest of Liberia’s talents and hidden talents, Sherman gave us the opportunity to be known in Mama Liberia for the talents we had. He promoted Liberian music and culture and made Liberia to recognize her untapped potentials.
When ELTV and ELBC failed to acknowledge his potentials, he didn’t sit still and grumbled, but moved on to establish Sabi Production which became the most popular entertainment and advertising production company in Liberia. And when Mama Liberia failed to acknowledge her hidden potentials, it was Sherman Brown who brought the hidden talents to light. And like Bai T. Moore, Sherman was always in search for the bright minds, musicians, and cultural artists; eager and willing to bring the nation’s hidden talents to the surface. And he even compensated us for demonstrating our talents.
I remember the revolving bill board for advertising that Sherman creatively designed and erected at the junction of the two bridges in Via Town. It was very mystifying and brought some cosmetic beauty to Via Town which is the gateway to central Monrovia from Bushrod Island.
Sherman will be remembered as a creative genius at television show business and the first Liberian to build a revolving advertising bill board in Liberia. He will also be remembered not only for his musical skills, but as a Liberian who helped us musicians gain recognition in Mama Liberia. His contributions to Mama Liberia will forever be remembered.
I hereby stand at attention and salute Mr. Sherman Brown for his magnificent contribution to Mama Liberia.
Well done Sherman, well done…