"Papa" Joe Brown was born in West Leicester, Nova Scotia. As a teen, he worked in the Halifax Shipyards and, with his sister, Vivian, formed the "Hillbilly Jewels". Early success in amateur talent contests was the stepping-stone to a career in radio, starting with CJFX Antigonish and CKBW Bridgewater. In 1952, at the request of Ken Reynolds, they left CFOS Owen Sound to tour Canada with the Wilf Carter Show. This would be the first of nine cross-country seasons with Carter.
Joe’s career in radio continued as he made appearances on the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree and in Hamilton, Kingston and Owen Sound in Canada. Once again, Ken Reynolds influenced Joe to move to Ottawa to be a founding member of the CFRA Happy Wanderers. For a decade, the Wanderers, which also included Reynolds, Ward Allen, Bob King and Vince Lebeau, were the premiere country group, not only in the Valley, but across Canada, where they won numerous awards.
The Wanderers ended their association with CFRA in 1965. They continued, with a number of player changes, until 1971, when the group became the Family Brown, featuring Joe, son Barry, and daughters Lawanda and Tracey. The group continued a schedule of personal appearances and many radio specials. Under the watchful eye of "Papa" Joe, the group then entered the world of television.
A year and a half with Pembroke’s CHOV led to a 13-year relationship with CJOH in Ottawa. Television success was coupled with recording triumphs as Joe and the "Family" released a dozen albums and 35 singles and enjoyed a string of 27 "top ten" hits. National and international tours followed, resulting in numerous awards, including nine consecutive Canadian "Group of the Year&qot; awards. Joe and his family received the ultimate tribute when they won the Juno Award for Country Group of the Year.