He was born in West Philadelphia and hails from a family of 12, nine of which are his siblings. With deep family values and convictions instilled by his parents, who asked what he planned to do once he turned 18, Brian Neal had to find his way. This was not an easy task to handle, since he was next to the youngest. His role model was his oldest brother, Jeff, whom Neal had always admired from an early age. Neal would sit and listen to his brother vocalizing and wanted to be like him.
His parents encouraged the arts in the home and made him learn to play the alto saxophone and attend art school. All of this impacted Neal, who decided, eventually, to use his God-given talent to encourage others. Ultimately, the family moved to the Baltimore area and Neal began to sing, to the delight of others. This went on for a while with Neal sometimes playing disc jockey at various events or going into the studio to record and lay tracks.
The elder Neal, whom Brian had cared for over a two year period, passed away in February of 2015 and Neal found himself in a slump of grief. He knew that he needed to move forward and found himself trying to get back to his “new normal” despite the loss of his father. Neal took time to regroup and found himself at a venue in Philadelphia called Poet-ify. (Poet-ify is a venue held at Germantown Church of the Brethren Fellowship Hall on the last Sunday of each month. Now in its tenth year, this is the venue “where poets, spoken word artists, word crafters, lyricists, musicians, singers, vocalists, praise dancers will lift you out of your comfort zone and put you in deep thought”.)
The venue lifted Neal’s mood and one year later, Brian Neal found himself the featured artist on Sunday, April 24, 2016. The setting was a family one in which the MTM band played mellow music and set the mood for what would follow. The evening included an open mic feature of spoken word artists, rappers, singers, poetry and more poetry. Family and friends had gathered in the hall to encourage and to demonstrate their love for one another. There were give-a-ways and more. As an additional touch a buffet style dinner was served which featured various savory dishes which ran the gamut from fried chicken to salmon (and it was all so good).
The afternoon was made even more special with an appearance by Baltimore’s Women of Distinction, an African and Caribbean dance group, who, accompanied by drummers, sashayed and swung to the beat of the night. As Neal approached the microphone, his vocals burst forth like the sun that shone in the heat of the day. The charismatic Neal spoke of the familial memories he had and the impact of family in all of our lives. He next did an original poetic tribute to his grandmother, Lena, who had also taught him some valuable life lessons along the way. In addition, Neal sang several rhythm and blues favorites, and closed the set with a tribute to the late Prince Rogers Nelson.
The poetically and musically gifted Neal promised a special project to come later in the year.
There was good food, music, fellowship and fun at Poet-ify, hosted by Victoria Peurifoy and RuNett Nia Ebo.