Hear voice of the lottery at Soul Fest

Vocalist Brown smiling, singing for La. lottery

Gina Brown is the new voice and face for the Louisiana Lottery Corp.

The lottery’s recent TV campaign features New Orleans vocalist Brown singing the lottery theme song, “Reason to Smile,” at a Canal Street recording studio.

“It’s been a real experience,” Brown said last week. “Everywhere I go, people look at me and ask, ‘Aren’t you the lady on the commercial?’ ”

She also has to tell many people that she didn’t win the lottery, she just sings the song.

Brown has yet to catch the commercial on TV herself but, whenever her friends see it, they phone her or send an email or text message telling her they saw it.

“The amazing thing is that it’s everywhere,” she marveled. “People will say, ‘I saw your commercial at the gas station!’ ”

Brown has begun to sing “Reason to Smile” at gigs.

“It’s got a catchy hook,” she said.

On the day of the commercial’s debut, Jan. 14, Brown visited the Louisiana Lottery headquarters in Baton Rouge. She met the staff and got a tour of the office.

A performance Brown did at an Essence Festival welcoming party staged by Mayor Mitch Landrieu got her noticed by Louisiana Lottery President Rose Hudson. Brown subsequently sang for a “I Love My Saints” scratch-off commercial but wasn’t seen on camera.

“They liked the ‘I Love My Saints’ commercial so much that they asked if I’d be interested in being the voice for the Pick 4 commercial,” she said.

No surprise that Brown, a singer who plays conventions, private events and concerts with her band, Anutha Level, sings an infectious, soulful rendition of “Reason to Smile.”

“It was an honor to sing it,” she said.

Brown’s other recent TV work includes an episode of the TLC reality show, “Four Weddings,” and, singing backup for Irma Thomas in an episode of HBO’s “Treme.”

The versatile Brown performs rhythm-and-blues, soul, jazz, pop and country. Her recently released album, “G’s Spot,” includes a guest appearance by Southern soul singer Mel Waiters in “We’re Having a Party” as well as her line-dance song, “G-Slide.”

Brown recorded “G-Slide” and created the song’s accompanying dance at Waiters’ San Antonio recording studio.

“Mel was like, ‘G, you need an anthem, something that’s going to get women involved,’ ” Brown recalled. “So my producer was like, ‘Make up a dance.’ And so it went from there.”

Brown’s planning a flash mob performance of the G-Slide dance during her Sunday afternoon appearance at the Audubon Zoo’s Soul Fest. She’s become a regular performer at Soul Fest, a community music event that’s celebrating its 10th year.

“Every year it has gotten better,” Brown said. “We’re gonna open with the G-Slide and they’re going to dance all over.”

A native of Mobile, Ala., Brown moved to New Orleans in 1994 to work in the promotions department of radio station WQUE-FM. She’d previously worked behind the scenes in radio and on the air in Mobile. She sang professionally in Alabama, too.

Of course, now that Brown is the voice of the Louisiana Lottery, she is more famous than ever.

“It’s crazy,” she said.

John Wirt is music writer. He can be reached at jwirt@theadvocate.com.