The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why?
Suzanne D’Addario Brouder: My father for sure. He has a great sense of humor, humility, wisdom, and a bit of grit all wrapped up into one. Education is extremely important, but being a compassionate, curious, grateful human being is really the key to success in life.
The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received?
D’Addario Brouder: Dreams don’t work unless you do. Which is a message I want to communicate to my children that anything is possible, and you should pursue whatever it is that brings you joy but you have to be prepared to work hard for it.
The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument?
D’Addario Brouder: We had a beautiful piano in the house I grew up in. My mother is an amazing pianist, and she would play for me. She has these beautiful long fingers and always played so musically.
The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoy playing?
D’Addario Brouder: I take guitar lessons now. I dabbled in a little violin in school, but I really love playing the piano.
The Retailer: Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn.
D’Addario Brouder: I was a Division 1 All-American athlete in college, playing field hockey on a scholarship for four years. I have run two marathons (one with my father), and I’m generally really into any sport you throw my way.
The Retailer: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work?
D’Addario Brouder: At home, I love to cook and am trying very hard to impart the joy of cooking on my three boys. I also love to travel and dance.
The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
D’Addario Brouder: That’s a tough one, most concerts are your best concert in that moment. This is a bit random, but it was an overall experience: the Squirrel Nut Zippers in New York City many, many years ago, when they first hit the scene. I attended the show with my then boyfriend, who is now my husband. I’d also have to say Lenny Kravitz in Chicago years ago, as well. Oh, and the Black Keys. They are just awesome.
The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why?
D’Addario Brouder: I could give a few answers, but I would probably say Django Reinhardt. I absolutely love gypsy jazz. I would love to be transported back to that era for a moment.
The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future?
D’Addario Brouder: I have been listening to Leon Bridges entire album lately. It’s really great. I would love to see that live. I just saw Phosphorescent which was a great show. I hope to see Kamasi Washington in Chicago soon. I definitely end up loving someone’s music more once I have seen them live.
The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood, and what do you remember about it the most?
D’Addario Brouder: Haha, I have to answer this with bands. I went through a hip hop phase in high school. I loved dancing in clubs in New York City, listening to De La Soul, Arrested Development, Dee- Lite, Salt-n-Peppa and MIA, but as a child (before MTV), I remember loving Queen. We had a pretty vast collection of Beatles albums, which we played over and over again but my favorite song still is “Blackbird.” I also had a friend that introduced me to reggae so listening to Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Toots and the Maytals really transports me back to childhood as well.
The Retailer: What songs are on your smartphone/iPod, etc. right now?
D’Addario Brouder: “Sing About It” by the Wood Brothers, Benjamin Booker, Ibeyi and Nathaniel Rateliff’s new album.
The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show?
D’Addario Brouder: My youngest son’s soccer coach from Ireland is actually a ridiculously talented guitarist and social influencer (@zeppelinbarnatra on Instagram). D’Addario, Fender and a few others in the industry have now discovered him, and he was invited by Fender to come to the show and play in their booth. I got to see him in Fender’s beautiful booth jamming out. I was so excited for him.
The Retailer: Tell us about your most memorable experience with an MI retailer (without naming them).
D’Addario Brouder: Out of the blue last year, we were contacted by an MI retailer who was moving his store to a larger location and planning a grand-opening party. He wanted to give a percentage of the event’s proceeds to the D’Addario Foundation and has since been collecting donations from customers for our work. It was touching that he thought to reach out to us, and we are so appreciative of the support.
The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industry?
D’Addario Brouder: My father and my uncle, and in turn myself, siblings and cousins, have grown up in this industry. To me, it is a very familial industry. I have begun to meet the next generation of young adults (daughters and sons of industry folks) interested in pursuing careers, and it warms my heart to see that familial quality continue.
The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industry and why?
D’Addario Brouder: Anyone who is an innovator and unabashedly takes risks doing what they love.
The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road?
D’Addario Brouder: I tend to feel that we might actually see a simplification of how we live life, distancing ourselves a bit from technology, but I am not on the product innovation side. I am on the education side of this business. I think we are beginning to see a resurgence in public interest in music making that stems from our innate need to exercise our brains and connect to something tangible and meaningful.
The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industry, what would you be doing and why?
D’Addario Brouder: I’m passionate about architecture and interior design. I dabble in it on the side when time allows. Ultimately, I’m a closet entrepreneur. I have a Google doc filled with business ideas that are mainly thoughts on how to address modern problems or make the world a safer, cleaner, more humane place.
The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you enjoy living there.
D’Addario Brouder: I grew up on Long Island. It is incredibly beautiful, like living in an enchanted forest with close access to the water. I also loved being so close to New York City as a kid. I still absolutely love New York City.
The Retailer: What are your most prized possession(s) and why?
D’Addario Brouder: I am obsessed with photos and videos that document the history of my family, past and present. I would die if those disappeared.
The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why?
D’Addario Brouder: Another tough question. I tend to get very passionate about the books and films (mostly documentaries) I am reading and watching at this very moment. Right now, I am really enjoying the book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” I’m actually reading it for a second time (this time with a highlighter).
The Retailer: The D’Addario Foundation has won the Music & Sound Award for Outstanding Community Service the past six years in a row. Tell us what that means to you.
D’Addario Brouder: It is hard for me to process, and I tend to compartmentalize stuff like this and just get back to work. But it truly is so incredibly meaningful. When there is an acknowledgment of your work, it only compels you to want to do much more. I’m humbled and inspired.