Accordion maestro follows in footsteps of former school-mates Joe McElderry and Jade Thirlwall

Accordion player Leonard Brown
Accordion player Leonard Brown

A talented musician from South Tyneside is following in the footsteps of two famous former school-mates after winning a national award.

Leonard Brown, 24, from South Shields, spent time alongside former X Factor winner Joe McElderry and Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall during his school days.

We put in a lot of hard work and travel a lot of miles to perform, but as long as people enjoy it, it’s all worthwhile

Leonard Brown

He is a talented accordion and piano player, and has just won the Guest Artist of the Year award in the Scottish National Association of Accordion and Fiddle Clubs.

Leonard has been part of Seghill Accordion Club, based in Northumberland, since the age of 14, and has been playing the accordion since he was 11.

He remains Seghill’s youngest member, and regularly performs in Scotland and the North East as a solo artist, as well as a duo with drummer Malcolm Ross or fiddle player Maggie Adamson, and part of a sixpiece group called Leonard Brown and his band. His talent has caught the eye north of the border and provided Leonard with welcome – if slightly unexpected – recognition.

Leonard, of Moreland Road, said: “It’s always nice to get recognition like that. We just enjoy playing and entertaining people, and that’s what it’s all about.

“We put in a lot of hard work and travel a lot of miles to perform, but as long as people enjoy it, it’s all worthwhile. We try to make sure they enjoy it, telling stories and jokes as well as the music. That seems to create a party atmosphere, and that’s how people remember you.”

Leonard was in the same class at Westoe Infants School as Joe, while he was at Laygate Primary with Jade, and also played the piano alongside her regularly at a restaurant in Sunderland.

He also attended Boldon Comprehensive School, receiving tuition from Andrew Cresswell, before studying for his A Levels at South Tyneside College and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in classical music from Newcastle University.

Leonard – who is often introduced at functions as ‘Mrs Brown’s Boy’, as his mum Muriel often prepares buffets at the venues – added: “Jade and Joe have gone on to much better things, and deservedly so. To see people you have gone to school with have so much success shows you that it can be done.

“I’m just going to carry on doing what I’m doing, and striving to better myself. As long as we provide good entertainment for people and they continue to enjoy themselves, that’s the main thing.”

To find out more about Leonard, visit www.leonardbrownaccordion.co.uk