“Slocumb imbues his character’s life with so much authenticity in the details, details that anyone who has played a stringed instrument, or played in a professional ensemble, will recognize. . . . [Brendan Slocumb] has plenty of brio to share with readers as well as listeners.” — NPR

Brendan Nicholaus Slocumb was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a degree in music education, concentrations on Violin and Viola. For the past two decades, he has been a public and private school music educator from kindergarten through twelfth grade, teaching general music, orchestra and guitar ensembles. His students were often chosen for district and regional orchestras. In 2005, Brendan was named Teacher of the Year for Robert E. Lee High School; he has been named to Who’s Who of American teachers, and is a Nobel Teacher of distinction. Brendan also serves as an educational consultant for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Music has always played a major part of Brendan’s life. He believes that it’s a life-saving force, and a gift we should always offer our children. When he was nine, he started playing violin through a public school music program. Friends he grew up with are today sitting in jail; when they were out running the streets, he was in rehearsals. When they were breaking into people’s houses, he was practicing Dvorak and Mozart. His violin opened the door to opportunity, and he ran through it. Since then, Brendan has performed with the Washington Metropolitan Symphony, the McLean Symphony, the Prince George’s Philharmonic, and the Alexandria Symphony. He has served as the concertmaster for the NOVA-Annandale Symphony Orchestra and regularly performs chamber music with members of the Alexandria Chamber Music Society. He maintains a private music studio teaching lessons to students on violin, guitar and piano. Brendan believes that everyone can learn to appreciate and love music, and that it can be a new way of communicating, building bonds, and connecting with people who may look, sound, or speak differently.

In 2022, Brendan published his first novel, THE VIOLIN CONSPIRACY (Anchor Books), a GMA Book Club Pick, about a young man who discovers that his family’s old violin is a Stradivarius, which launches him into classical music stardom. On the eve of the biggest music competition in the world, someone steals the violin and he must get it back. In 2023, he published his second novel, SYMPHONY OF SECRETS (Anchor Books), about a music historian who discovers that the world’s greatest composer may have stolen the music from a neurodivergent Black woman – and the powers-that-be will do anything to silence the historian. Brendan is now at work on his third novel, to be published in early 2025.

Brendan's Featured Titles

Symphony of Secrets

Anchor |

A gripping page-turner from the celebrated author of book club favorite The Violin Conspiracy: Music professor Bern Hendricks discovers a shocking secret about the most famous American composer of all time—his music may have been stolen from a Black Jazz Age prodigy named Josephine Reed. Determined to uncover the truth that a powerful organization wants to keep hidden, Bern will stop at nothing to right history’s wrongs and give Josephine the recognition she deserves.

“At once a celebration of music and also a cautionary tale about legacy, privilege, and creative genius.” —Nita Prose, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Maid

Bern Hendricks has just received the call of a lifetime. As one of the world’s preeminent experts on the famed twentieth-century composer Frederick Delaney, Bern knows everything there is to know about the man behind the music. When Mallory Roberts, a board member of the distinguished Delaney Foundation and direct descendant of the man himself, asks for Bern’s help authenticating a newly discovered piece, which may be his famous lost opera, RED, he jumps at the chance. With the help of his tech-savvy acquaintance Eboni, Bern soon discovers that the truth is far more complicated than history would have them believe.

In 1920s Manhattan, Josephine Reed is living on the streets and frequenting jazz clubs when she meets the struggling musician Fred Delaney. But where young Delaney struggles, Josephine soars. She’s a natural prodigy who hears beautiful music in the sounds of the world around her. With Josephine as his silent partner, Delaney’s career takes off—but who is the real genius here?

In the present day, Bern and Eboni begin to uncover more clues that indicate Delaney may have had help in composing his most successful work. Armed with more questions than answers and caught in the crosshairs of a powerful organization who will stop at nothing to keep their secret hidden, Bern and Eboni will move heaven and earth in their dogged quest to right history’s wrongs.

The Violin Conspiracy

Vintage |

GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK! • Ray McMillian is a Black classical musician on the rise—undeterred by the pressure and prejudice of the classical music worldwhen a shocking theft sends him on a desperate quest to recover his great-great-grandfather’s heirloom violin on the eve of the most prestigious musical competition in the world.

“I loved The Violin Conspiracy for exactly the same reasons I loved The Queen’s Gambit: a surprising, beautifully rendered underdog hero I cared about deeply and a fascinating, cutthroat world I knew nothing about—in this case, classical music.” —Chris Bohjalian, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Attendant and Hour of the Witch

Growing up Black in rural North Carolina, Ray McMillian’s life is already mapped out. But Ray has a gift and a dream—he’s determined to become a world-class professional violinist, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his mother, who wants him to stop making such a racket; not the fact that he can’t afford a violin suitable to his talents; not even the racism inherent in the world of classical music.

When he discovers that his beat-up, family fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, all his dreams suddenly seem within reach, and together, Ray and his violin take the world by storm. But on the eve of the renowned and cutthroat Tchaikovsky Competition—the Olympics of classical music—the violin is stolen, a ransom note for five million dollars left in its place. Without it, Ray feels like he’s lost a piece of himself. As the competition approaches, Ray must not only reclaim his precious violin, but prove to himself—and the world—that no matter the outcome, there has always been a truly great musician within him.



Always be true to yourself. The problem with first impressions is that they’re the only one you get – and as a Black man, I’m often judged on a first impression. It’s critical that you provide the best first impression you can; plus if you come across one way and you’re really another way, you can only keep up the facade for so long. Don’t put time and energy into something that isn’t even real: figure out what you love, what makes you happy, what kind of person that you are, and embrace it.



Are you a creative person who loves to express themselves? Are you curious about taking your creativity to new heights? Musician and writer Brendan Slocumb will guide participants in exploring different modes of expression, sharing his own experiences across creative mediums. Bring your own instrument, bring your own laptop or notebook – and most important, bring your own willingness to explore your own creative abilities! Learn about the intersections of music and writing, and have a chance to create something yourself. Many people think that “creativity” means coming up with something that nobody else has done before. For me, “Creativity” can mean taking something that someone else has done, and put your own spin on it. Sometimes people like it and sometimes people don’t, but that’s for me the heart of creativity – experimenting with what personally appeals to me about different works.


Music Can Save Your Life

Music is a life-saving force. It saved mine. Friends I grew up with are today sitting in jail, or are dead. When they were out running the streets, I was in rehearsals. When they were breaking into people’s houses, I was practicing Dvorak and Mozart. My violin opened the door to opportunity, and I ran through it. Through music, I developed a work ethic that I now try to instill in my students so that they too can encounter the joys of what music can do for us all. Not everyone will go on to become world famous musicians, but everyone can learn to appreciate and love music — and to find new ways of communicating. Music is a gift we should always offer to children and adults alike: it is never too late to experience or appreciate.

Quotes on The Violin Conspiracy

Brendan’s Press Page

Reviews of Symphony of Secrets

Honors, Awards & Recognition

GMA Book Club Pick February 2022

Media Kit

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