Echo Brown, Author and Storyteller, Died of Illness

Last Updated on October 3, 2023, 9:10 am

Echo Brown, a late-blooming author, passed away on September 16 in Cleveland. She utilized her experiences to inspire two autobiographical young adult novels and a one-woman play about Black female identity. She died at the age of 39 years old.

Echo Brown Died
Echo Brown (Image via Facebook)

Her health issues were a contributing factor in her death. She suffered from kidney damage due to her lupus; she eventually had kidney failure.

Many people were heartbroken by her passing, and she will be remembered for her incredible storytelling and the difference she made in so many people’s lives. Her friend Cathy Mao verified that she had passed away at a hospital.

Death Cause

According to Cathy Mao’s phone confirmation, Brown was diagnosed with lupus in about 2015, ultimately resulting in kidney failure. A transplant with a live kidney donor had been approved, and Echo died suddenly during the procedure with a live kidney donor.

Despite numerous obstacles, she achieved success that defies comprehension. Echo continued to write and create stories despite her illness and the countless weekly dialysis sessions that kept her alive. The life of Echo Brown was a journey replete with motivational tales.

She endured in life; her abilities and creativity were evident in her work. She shared her thoughts and experiences with others through her writing and performances, touching many people’s hearts. Echo Brown’s stories and zeal to change the world will always be remembered.

Thoughts and Condolences to her family and close companions, her funeral burial services have not been released publicly.

Who was Echo Brown?

Brown was born in Cleveland on April 10, 1984, and she experienced a rough upbringing there. Brown’s English teacher took her in during her final year so she could continue to do well at John Hay High School; she was the valedictorian of her class. When Brown graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in political science in 2006, she became the first member of her family to complete college.

She moved to California in 2011 to take a job with the organization Challenge Day, which offers anti-bullying and violence-prevention training for high school students. She enrolled in a class taught by director and playwright David Ford at Berkeley’s The Marsh Theater to learn more about storytelling.

Brown’s Career

Ford and Brown collaborated for two years to create Brown’s autobiographical one-woman show, “Black Virgins Are Not for Hipsters,” which debuted in Oakland in 2015 and was followed by two years of sell-out performances domestically and abroad. She had no prior stage experience despite having grown up in poverty in Cleveland and graduating from Dartmouth College.

Through several voices, it revealed her autobiographical account about dating a white hipster, including her concerns about his reaction to her dark skin, as well as about adult content, love, sadness, and childhood. She performed the act in Chicago, Cleveland, Dublin, and Berlin and successfully staged it in Bay Area venues.

Brown’s Career as a Book Author

Brown‘s journey toward becoming a book author was arduous. She began her career by working with a private organization investigating accusations of wrongdoing against police officers in New York City.

She told Dartmouth Alumni Magazine in a 2017 interview that two years later, disappointed with her organization’s lack of advancement, “I left that job really disillusioned with the world.” Brown was a legal secretary before enrolling in Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s investigative journalism program.

Anderson got in touch with Brown and suggested that she write a book. In 2018, Anderson bought the rights to Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard, published in 2020.

Early in 2020, soon after the release of that book and a remarkable keynote speech at ALA Midwinter, Brown had an acute illness and was sent to the hospital with kidney failure. Brown continued to write while receiving treatment for her disease; her sophomore YA book, The Chosen One: A First-Generation Ivy League Odyssey, which was motivated by her time in college, was released by Little, Brown/Ottaviano last year.

Brown collaborated with actor, producer, and director Tyler Perry on her third book, A Jazzman’s Blues (S&S/Atria, which was planed to publish on January 2024), based on Perry’s original screenplay for a Netflix movie. Brown was writing this book when she passed away.


Cathy Mao organized a GoFundMe page on behalf of Echo’s family; she wrote in her post that:

“Echo endured kidney failure brought on by lupus for more than three years. I have never met a soul more beautiful than hers. She was “…the girl who never gives up, the girl who believed she could, so Echo did,” as she put it in the acknowledgments of her first book.

I’m raising money to help Echo’s family pay for her funeral and reception, as well as burial and relocating expenses, and care for Baba Baby, Echo’s beloved cat, and Baba Baby’s kindred spirit and soulmate, who was just diagnosed with renal disease.

We want to ensure we can maintain those things, as Echo also made many provisions for her family, including their life insurance. Echo’s mother will receive the remaining money so she may pay for any unexpected unanticipated expenses.”

The campaign had started to collect a $15000 goal and $15,610 has been raised by 192 donations, but still, anyone who wants to donate can directly donate to the family in this tragic time. Prayers for her; Rest in Peace, Echo Brown.


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