Alan Brown of Corduroy Brown is pictured.

ASHLAND A near-death experience turned out to be life affirming for one local singer-songwriter.

Alan Brown, of Huntington, lead singer and guitar player for the band Corduroy Brown, contracted COVID-19 in January. He recovered, but became ill again in February. So ill, in fact, after being on a ventilator for a day, he was life-flighted to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., where he was on life support for  several days. He was diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-A), a rare but severe complication in adults who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“It’s a very rare thing,” Brown said. “There are less than 40 people in the country with it. It’s leftover protein from the antibody that COVID made. A month after COVID, my immune system attacked antibodies that COVID made and put my heart in a state of shock. I had heart failure, liver failure, kidney failure and lung failure.”

Brown said he was on ECMO, which stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The ECMO machine is similar to the heart-lung by-pass machine used in open-heart surgery. It pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest.

“When you’re on ECMO, you’re usually saying ‘goodbye,’” Brown said, noting he was technically dead for a time, but instead of being on the machine for two weeks, as was expected, he was able to have it removed after about four days.

“The next week I was up walking,” he said. “The doctors were shocked.” He said he attributes his age — 30 — and good health to his recovery.

Being so ill took a toll on the singer’s voice.

“I’m not sure it was from COVID, but from being in the hospital for so long,” he said. “Also having the tubes down my throat.

“We practiced on Memorial Day and it was the first time I made it through a 45-minute set without losing my voice,” he said.

The band consists of some of Brown’s closest and oldest friends: Tyler Cooper, of Huntington, on guitar; Jeffrey McClellan, of Chesapeake, on drums; and Chris Barker, of Greenup, on bass.

The band will open for Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, a Tennessee-based Americana, alternative rock and folk rock band from Memphis, on Saturday at the Paramount Arts Center.

“We’re super, super excited to come out of COVID, but to get in front of a nationally known band in our hometown is wonderful,” Brown said.

The band’s eclectic style reflects their own musical interests; Brown said their tastes are “literally all over the place.” But he can describe their music.

“It’s like feel good, but a lot of sentiment,” he said. “It’s a jovial sound, pop with rock, but we kind of talk about a lot of serious stuff. The lyrics are introspective, That’s why it takes me a while to write the songs because, lyrically, I want to make sure I mean everything I’m saying and it's heartfelt.”

He said he writes the “blueprints” of the song, and usually has band members’ input to finish them off, much the way the band’s debut album, “Let Me Know,” due out on Aug. 14, was put together.

“I basically tried to work with as many people as I could, especially in the time frame of COVID,” Brown said. The involvement of others helped him decide on the name of the album.

“My entire life, so many people have always said, ‘Let me know if you need anything’ of ‘How can I help you?’ I’ve always been super appreciative of that.

“When I was life flighted to Morgantown and on life support, my community raised $30,000 for medical bills,” he continued. “I feel so lucky so many people always have shown they love me and have my back.”

His illness put some other aspects of life into perspective for him, including his career as a musician.

“I don’t want to take any more time and not use it, so I feel like when I play music, I’m doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing,” Brown said. “Not that I didn’t appreciate it before, but when you’re dying, you literally have ‘Come to Jesus’ moments and you realize, let’s not take these gifts for granted.

“It’s a miraculous thing. There’s a (Confucius) quote that says, ‘We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.’”

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