Directed by Ben Niles
The 5 Browns, a group of classically trained sibling pianists who experienced a meteoric rise to stardom only to be devastated years later by the tragic revelation that all three sisters, Desirae, Deondra and Melody, had been sexually abused by their father during childhood.
Shot during the recording of the 5 Browns’ new album about their childhood memories, the siblings open up about the traumatic events that occurred in adolescence, haunt them to this day and inspire them to fight for social justice. The 5 Browns: Desirae (38), Deondra (37), Gregory (35), Melody (33) and Ryan (31) burst on to the classical music scene after a New York Times profile in 2000. All five were studying piano at the esteemed Juilliard School (a first in the school’s long history), leading to immediate stardom and appearances on several major broadcasts including 60 Minutes, Jay Leno and Oprah. The following year they were signed to Sony Records and performed in major concert halls around the world. But everything was not what it seemed with this wholesome and pitch perfect Mormon family. Home schooled from a very young age with strictly supervised piano lessons, their father Keith became both their talent manager and abuser. While the abuse went on for years, the sisters never told a soul…not their mother…not even each other.
It wasn’t until years later in 2007 that the sisters confessed to each other about the decades long abuse, told their brothers who were horrified and confronted their father. Rather than apologize, Keith denied their accusations and the siblings’ own credibility was called into question by their extended family and community. Finally, the 5 Browns were faced with one of the toughest and emotional decisions of their life: Should they seek charges and prosecute their own father? Was it even possible under the statute of limitation (SOL) laws?
With unfettered access and during the recording of their new album about childhood, the film weaves together a profoundly moving mix of verité footage, candid interviews, rehearsals, performances and a vast library of archival family video that addresses two major themes that have come to define each of the The 5 Browns: Healing through music and fighting to change statute of limitation laws for crimes of child sex abuse.
Directed by Ben Niles Note By Note (The Making of Steinway L1037). Executively Produced by Geralyn Dreyfous.