Marquis Brown 2014
Football was a big reason why Marquis Brown came to Bluffton. It just so happened that his arrival on campus coincided with the fall 2010 formation of a university choir dedicated to gospel music.
The senior has been balancing the two interests ever since at Bluffton, where he is also pursuing a business administration major with a concentration in management.
On the football field, Brown is an offensive guard. “I didn’t know what an offensive lineman was till ninth grade,” he remembers, explaining that quarterbacks and receivers were the only players on offense in the backyard football he played. He first played organized football as a freshman at Cleveland Heights High School.
Although he didn’t play much in high school, Bluffton’s coaches saw potential and started calling. “They were dedicated to getting me here,” says Brown, adding that Bluffton “was the only school that recruited me like that.” He became a starter for the Beavers last year and is a team captain this season.
He had considerably more history in gospel music, having sung in three church choirs with family while growing up in the Cleveland area.
Brown wanted to continue singing “somehow” in college and, when he learned about the Bluffton University Gospel Choir, he attended a rehearsal “and never stopped going.”
His solos have included one at last month’s President’s Society Dinner with the choir director, Dr. Crystal Sellers Battle, as a background singer. “Over the years, she’s become more like an aunt or a mom,” says Brown about the assistant professor of music. He also takes voice lessons from her; is helping first-year students in the section of Bluffton’s Becoming a Scholar course that she teaches; and is in his third year as a mentor in Project H.O.M.E. (Hope, Opportunity, Mentorship and Education), the mentorship program for students of color that she also directs.
While he would like to manage his own clothing business someday, Brown is keeping music in his sights. “I want to try to be a background singer for somebody,” he says, mentioning gospel artist Fred Hammond in particular. “I probably would give up clothing to sing for him.”
His singing represents a testimony through music. “God is the reason I’m here” as a football captain and on course to graduate in May. “You’ve got to give it all to where you got it.”