THE SPA IN ME
Interview With Suzie Brown, M.D.: Advanced Heart Failure Cardiologist, Musician, Mother
A 1970s-inspired folk-pop songwriter, Suzie Brown has chased her unique muse for a decade, making modern-day roots music that nods to the soul singers, heartland rockers, and blues artists who came before her. Gluing the sound together is the unforced voice and honest, autobiographical songwriting of a Renaissance woman who's not only an acclaimed musician, but also an Advanced Heart Failure cardiologist and mother of two. Her songs have earned recognition from the NewSong Music Competition, International Songwriting Competition, Independent Music Awards, and Forbes Magazine. "I love everything about you, Suzie — you're wearing a lot of hats, and wearing them all well," said broadcast journalist Gayle King during an episode of CBS This Morning that showcased Brown's unique balancing act between music, medicine, and motherhood. Brown turns that balancing act into music, rolling with the punches, adjusting to the changing times, and writing the ever-evolving soundtrack to her journey
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview. Not only are you a mother and a cardiologist specializing in heart transplants and heart failure, but you are also a singer-songwriter. How are you able to manage your personal and professional life?
It is definitely a challenge to feel like I’m ‘keeping up’ or achieving any sort of balance with all that I juggle. These are some of the things that I have learned:
· There is no one formula that I can just plug in that will give me the right balance all the time. And there is no way to give 100% to everything all the time. So, I try and assess what part of my life needs my attention most at the current time, and direct more of my time and effort there, realizing that the other stuff is going to have to slide for the time being (but will get my full attention when it’s their turn).
· There’s no way to do A+ work at everything. It’s really important to accept B- work at things that are less important (like housework).
· If there’s something that someone else can do instead of me, I always ask for help or pay them to help me if that’s an option (like housework – do you see a trend here?).
Does music help you to manage the stress of working as a physician or other stressors?
It has been an invaluable way for me to express how I’m feeling about really everything in my life – work as a physician, motherhood, everything! I have found it’s often easier to sing things than say them.
Even before the pandemic, physicians were suffering from burnout and high rates of suicide. Can you tell us a story about how your music has impacted other physicians? Has it inspired them to seek interests outside of work?
I have been fortunate enough to have been asked to speak at a variety of physician wellness conferences, where I have been able to tell my story and share some of my music. One of the core messages of my talks is that if you’re not happy, then make a change! There are no real rules, and if you’re happy, you win!
Is there a singer or songwriter with whom you would like to collaborate? What interests you about this person?
In a dream world, I’d love to write a song with Kacey Musgraves, Brandi Carlile, Lori McKenna, Maren Morris, and Shane McAnally, among many others! They are all people who have written songs that move me deeply.
Would you share your dream venue for a musical performance? Also, let us know why you believe this venue is special.
The Newport Folk Festival is such a magical place – it would be an absolute dream to play there. I used to live in Boston and went to the festival many times, even before I started playing music myself. It was always such a respite from life as a doctor. It made me feel alive and all filled up.
What are your top three favorite songs that you’ve written and what makes them special?
Don’t Miss Too Much – I wrote this song for my daughters. I never realized how much they would actually LOVE me! It’s so wonderful and also terrifying. I deal with a lot of end-of-life issues at work, and I can’t help thinking about how hard it might be for my daughters when I’m gone. I wanted to tell them: keep enjoying your life, even if you’re sad. There’s so much that can bring you joy, don’t miss it!
Under The Surface – It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone else’s life is perfect or at least “better” than our own, especially in the age of social media. This song is about how we all have no idea what’s going on just under the surface – we have no idea the battles other people are fighting.
Side Streets – This is a super sweet and romantic love song that I wrote when I was still single. It was my ‘wishful thinking’ song. I like to say I wrote it to my husband a few years before actually meeting him. I’ve had the chance to sing this song at a number of fans’ weddings!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you continued success on all of your great work!
You can follow Suzie Brown, M.D., on her website and social media at:
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