‘Very Good!’ Jackson earns title of the largest sold-out venue of best-selling author Tabitha book tour

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Tabitha Brown was overcome with emotions as Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom of the South delivered a surprise performance to the award-winning author. (Photo: William H. Kelly III/JSU University Communications)

By William H. Kelly III

Jackson Advocate Guest Writer

People said it could not be done. Jackson, Mississippi, was not the right place or space for an event about a book. The city said otherwise. 

Jacksonians and out-of-state travelers packed the Jackson Convention Complex (JCC) on Feb. 5 to welcome #1 New York Times Best-Selling Author Tabitha Brown for her highly anticipated “I Did A New Thing” Birthday Tour. The turnout earned the city bragging rights as the largest sold-out venue along Brown’s nine-city tour.

The event was hosted by Jackson State University, Lemuria Books, Mississippi Book Festival, and Visit Jackson. 

On Oct. 26, 2023, Brown came to her social media platforms after receiving pushback from event spaces who said that book tours “don’t do well” in Jackson. She accumulated over 921 shares, 326,000 views, and 6,000 comments on Instagram and Facebook, as thousands vouched on behalf of the Magnolia state.

After hosting over 1,650 guests in the JCC, the actress and personality posted a testimonial and recap reel on her Instagram with the following message she received from one of her team members on Oct. 26: 

“The venue in Jackson informed us that they’d need to pass on hosting a moderated event. The feedback was they couldn’t make the venue expenses work with the ticket prices, and the market isn’t the best for a book event. We connected with the publisher team, and their accounts team flagged Jackson, which isn’t traditionally the best market as well. If we choose to keep Jackson, we’d pivot this to a book signing instead of a moderated event.”

On the night of the event, Brown was brought to tears as she witnessed an electrifying surprise performance by Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom of the South and over a thousand supporters screaming JSU’s adopted rendition of “Get Ready” and “Auntie Tab’s” infamous line “Very Good!” 

The evening was filled with a spirit of releasing and accepting new things, aligning perfectly with the celebration of her fourth book “I Did a New Thing: 30 Days to Living Free.” Members from the crowd participated in a giveaway, question and answer portion, and leaned in with open hearts as Brown shared her story. 

“I had my first mammogram when I was doing my 30-day challenge because I was supposed to get it during COVID, and then they canceled all the appointments,” Brown said. 

She was later asked to return for an ultrasound after the doctors noticed what appeared to be a mass in Brown’s body. 

“In that moment, me and Chance kind of looked at each other both because it hits you for a second because I was just doing a new thing, going to get a mammogram. I wasn’t signing up for all that,” said Brown with humor, and the crowd joined in laughter. “I was like, ‘Now, this wasn’t part of the book that I was writing.’”

In December 2023, Brown says she went in for her biopsy the day after attending the second annual Children’s and Family Emmy Awards, earning her first Emmy for Outstanding Host for her YouTube Originals children’s show “Tab Time.” The month seemed to overflow with good news as Brown later learned that the doctors discovered nothing in her body during the biopsy. 

She shared an intimate moment with the audience about how the “old Tab” would have spiraled with fear of the unknown and claimed cancer or death as the outcome. Instead, the author overcame her triggers, claimed life, and acknowledged the inner healing work she’d done for herself.

“When you’ve been sick, or you’ve been in a bad relationship or bad things just seem like they’re constantly happening, it’s easy to go back into the old mindset of ‘Here we go again,’” Brown said. “…I could have wasted so much energy on nothing. And a lot of times that’s what we do. We waste a lot of energy on nothing. And I’m so grateful. I was so proud of myself. As you see in my dedication, I dedicated this book to Tab because I said, ‘Tab, girl, you’ve been doing the work out here.’”

In 2014, the actress and social media personality challenged herself to try something new every day for 30 days. The challenge was simple. Every day, she would do something she had never done before. Brown says this challenge has helped define her self-worth and path to living freely in the last decade. 

During this challenge, the vegan foodie that so many know and love was born. After a year and seven months of illness and “trying every drug the doctor offered her,” Brown found healing in a plant-based diet and hasn’t looked back.

The evening ended with event moderator Lakeysha Hallmon, Ed.D., founder and CEO of the Village Market, encouraging Brown to share advice with the audience. Brown encouraged men and women to get routine checkups, listen to their bodies, try avocados, walk to work if it’s safe, visit North Carolina, and listen to Leela James’ song “Music,” where Brown served as a waitress in the music video. 

Hallmon asked Brown for an affirmation for Jackson, to which she responded, “I am free.” Her follow-up to “set Jackson free” was, “Don’t believe the lie you’ve been told.”

Contributors, partners, and sponsors included Ellen Daniels, executive director of the Mississippi Book Festival; Tonja Murphy, community engagement director for the Mississippi Book Festival; Hillary Taylor, events coordinator at Lemuria Books; Paul Wolf, director of Destination Storytelling for Visit Jackson; Ebony Lumumba, Ph.D., chair for the Department of English and Modern Languages; Carol Woodson, director of the Events and Visitor Services at JSU; and Atmos Energy.

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‘Very Good!’ Jackson earns title of the largest sold-out venue of best-selling author Tabitha book tour

By Jackson Advocate News Service
February 26, 2024