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Jeni Parris Brady, founder of Naptownmusic, dies at 58; her support for Annapolis music scene carries on

Naomi Harris
Contact Reporternharris@capgaznews.com

On any given night a one-woman show would appear at Annapolis music venues to document the musician playing.

Jeni Parris Brady, founder of website Naptownmusic, dedicated her life to covering the music scene of Annapolis. Brady died Sunday in hospice after battling a rare form of cancer. She was 58.

But until her last couple of days, Brady was doing what she was known for — supporting the Annapolis music scene.

“She fought this cancer until the last minute,” said friend Lisa Anderson. “She was checking her email, texting people and planning.”

Brady took great care to post schedules for musicians, take photos and videotape shows in support of Annapolis artists. She traveled to Baltimore and Philadelphia to do so. For some who knew her, they can barely recall the first time they met her because she always felt like a constant in their lives.

“We have just known each other over the years … I can’t even put my finger on the day I met her,” said Annapolis musician Jimi Davies. “I can’t even tell a year or a day, it was always hugs and she would get to work.”

The launch of Naptownmusic, supporting others

Brady launched Naptownmusic in 2012 and expanded to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. She even had an app that posted schedules, reviews, venues and more to showcase the Annapolis music scene.

But she did more than just promote the work of artists. She also took the time to motivate them, said Julie Cymek, lead singer of rock and soul band Sweet Leda.

“You’d just want to be around her,” Cymek said. “Being an artist, we are sensitive and scared and nervous but she’d always give us a push and encouragement.”

When new bands or singers started out, Brady was there to help. Anderson turned to Brady for help after her son began a band, Fast As Lightning.

“My son started his band when he was 10 years old and they played a show at the Metropolitan. If I wanted the kids to play at a venue, she would send me the contact information. She would give me contact information for merchandise,” Anderson said. “She knew everyone, everywhere.”

Brady worked so hard that those who knew her joked she must have had a twin or a clone to do the amount of production she put in to maintain Naptownmusic.

“She was omnipresent, she was everywhere and all at once,” Davies said. “I would always joke as if she was cloned because of the amount of effort it would take to go to three or four shows is well beyond my capacity.”

Brady, who worked in sales, did not get paid for her work documenting the arts scene. It was what her brother called a hobby and passion.

“She was very generous and loved music,” Neil Parris said. She played the flute and piccolo throughout high school and though she stopped playing music — she did not stop promoting it.

Known for her support of others, generosity

When asked about Brady, the word love came up often among friends. People felt loved and loved her, they said.

“I guess what we will definitely remember from her is to love and support each other unconditionally in this whole scene,” Cymek said. “To support the scene, support the arts and help each other -- just for the sake of being helpful.”

Brady helped even when people did not ask. Local singer and songwriter Penni Lynne was diagnosed with stiff person syndrome and recalled how Brady was there for her, she said.

“She didn’t offer anything, she just did it. She didn’t ask what you wanted but gave you exactly what you needed, when you needed it,” Lynne said.

For example, Brady was there to document Lynne’s daughter’s first gig at the Metropolitan.

She had a presence in venues, and even after she was diagnosed with cancer, Brady continued to work and kept her condition relatively quiet.

“She was the type of person, who it didn’t matter how hard her life was, because she wanted to support other creatives,” visual artist, Anthony LaVorgna said. “Even with her being sick and not telling people, she was still registering [on Facebook] to events as going.”

Anderson saw Brady go through treatments and still work. She sent messages to explain her condition and asked one friend that if anything were to happen they should honor her with a “celebration of life.”

Frank Lewis, managing partner of One Koast Entertainment, said Brady did not want parades or sideshow attractions.

One of her last messages to Lewis read: I don’t want to be maudlin; it should be a “rager” celebrating our musicians and the love that we share.

With Brady’s help, the Annapolis music scene has been promoted, documented and introduced to others, musicians said.

“She was at all of the shows. She was the biggest promoter we had,” LaVorgna said. “She changed my life because being in town here, I saw the artistic community and I wanted to be part of it.”

Through the journey of Naptownmusic, Brady went from using a cell phone to a tripod to a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera, according to musician Charles Kavoossi.

“Every time I saw her she had something new and getting better and better,” he said.

Despite her passing, the legacy of Naptownmusic will live on. Kavoossi said he will continue to manage the platform after Brady called and asked. The one-woman show is now a crew of at least eight people, said Kavoossi.

“The shoes to fill is an understatement,” Kavoossi said. “Her and I both had the same mindset that as long as I delegate it and keep the integrity of it, and it remains pure and fair to all different kinds of genres.”

Brady, who was the oldest child of Edward Parris, 85, and Kay Parris, 79, grew up with her two brothers and sister in Bowie.

For 20 years, Brady worked as a sales associate for The Capital.

After the financial crisis in 2008, Brady was unemployed and decided to go back to college to get her bachelor’s degree in English. She then got her master’s in marketing, both from the University of Maryland, University College in 2017.

Brady is survived by her father, mother, three siblings, David Parris, Suzanne Coggins and Neil Parris. She is also survived by her two sons, Tristan Parris Lavelle and Oliver Parris Brady.

“The family is very proud of her achievements, people really recognized the contributions she made,” Neil Parris said. “She will be missed … she was just very generous.”

One Koast Entertainment and Lewis are planning an event in Brady’s honor. The monthly singer songwriter show at 49 West may also turn into a makeshift vigil.

nharris@capgaznews.com

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