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Florida sailor shows how the Navy band builds relationships, heals communities

Navy band
Posted at 10:20 AM, Feb 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-20 10:56:30-05

NORFOLK, Va. — Beyond working on Navy ships and weapons, there are so many jobs for sailors. One combines passion, skill, and an instrument.

Being a Navy musician comes with the responsibility of building worldly relationships and healing communities. It's done with the power of music.

"I get to do quite a lot for the Navy band," said Musician Second Class James Brownell. "So now for the Navy I play trumpet, Tuba, sousaphone, euphonium, trombone and on occasion I have to sing as well."

RAW INTERVIEW | Florida sailor shows how the Navy band builds relationships, heals communities

He's been in the Navy band for 19 years, and his passion started in a Florida high school.

"I was born in Miami," Brownell said. "My grandparents are from Fort Myers actually, so I got to spend a lot of summers over there and on the beach."

He's now one of 45 Norfolk sailors who travel the world.

"We’re musical ambassadors. It opens up a lot of doors for the Navy, but for our country," Brownell said. "Music is the universal language. It’s everywhere."

Brownell's trombone case is covered with patches, signifying all the countries he's performed in. The sailor is hoping to go back to Japan and perform in the Navy band there, exposing other countries to different types of music.

"You can see the little eyes light up, like what is going on that, what is this western music," he said. "Give them the cowbell and let them play along and all that stuff."

He says the bonds created go beyond what you see and explains it's also what you feel.

"Music is definitely one of the best healing tools on the planet," Brownell said.

It's healing southwest Florida continues to go through.

"Music always helps heal the soul from quite a big disaster like that," Brownell said. "I wish we could get this band to go down there [Fort Myers] and play."

In the meantime, the Florida sailor is also hoping to go back home to visit and has his eyes on coming back to see family this summer.

"It’s hard being away from family, but it’s worth it doing this job," he said. "If you’re seeing this I love and miss you guys and just trying to get home this summer, so I’ll see you around."