Six-time GRAMMY® Award-nominee Nnenna Freelon has earned a well-deserved reputation as a compelling and captivating live performer. Appearing at the Democratic National Convention’s Media Day on Sept. 1, 2012, Freelon continues her international reach bringing attention to two of her passions—the art of jazz and the importance of education.
In November 2011, The White House asked Freelon to headline the Asia Pacific Economic Summit, for 300 Presidents, Premiers and Heads of State from around the world—another triumph! In live performance, recent opportunities have brought her first collaborations with two legends Freelon has long-admired: guitarist Earl Klugh and pianist Ramsey Lewis.
Prior to these stellar events, Freelon teamed with Opera Superstar Jessye Norman and the Indie phenom band The Roots at The Hollywood Bowl, and thrilled SRO-shows at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival with the Duke Ellington-inspired “Dreaming The Duke,” Freelon has thrilled audiences worldwide.
At the 43rd annual GRAMMY Awards telecast from Los Angeles, she inspired an enthusiastic standing ovation from 20,000 music-industry insiders and celebrities when she took to the stage with Take 6. Prior to that stirring appearance, Freelon’s performances for the legendary Julie Andrews at the Society of Singers’ “Ella Awards,” Variety’s The Children’s Charity, Jerry Lewis’ Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, a headline spot for ActionAID, the International AIDS fundraiser with Sir Elton John, and Andrea Bocelli, as well as at the most famous jazz festivals around the globe, have all been rousing successes.
A tireless advocate for the arts, and known for her dedication to education and children of all ages, Freelon has been recognized often - YWCA of North Carolina’s 2011 inaugural “Legend Award” for her outstanding artistry and dedication to education, 2010 “Woman of Substance” by Bennett College for Woman, the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame for her artistry, the Eubie Blake Award, Academie of Jazz of France Award, and many more.
Freelon’s recent TV appearances include PBS’s The Charlie Rose Show, NBC’s Weekend Today, and In Performance At The White House to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, The versatile songstress quickly paired those notable turns with a featured song on TV’s # 1 cable hit Mad Men and on recording with The World Famous Count Basie Orchestra to celebrate their new Mack Avenue recording.
Freelon made her feature film debut in the Mel Gibson hit, What Women Want, and sang a remake of Sinatra’s classic, “Fly Me To The Moon” for The Visit, starring Billy Dee Williams. She has twice been nominated for the “Lady of Soul” Soul Train Award. What’s more, Freelon has performed and toured with a veritable who’s who in music, from Ray Charles and Ellis Marsalis to Al Jarreau and George Benson, among many others.
No wonder—for anyone who has heard and seen Freelon sing knows she is a skillful interpreter of even the most familiar chestnuts. Says Freelon, “We continue to evolve—I’ve grown a lot, both musically and spiritually, on this journey. Before, many things were ‘first’ experiences, but now I’m going back to some of the same festivals and venues. It’s great to see all the awards and career milestones building up,” she admits, “but it’s even nicer to realize people are coming to the shows and saying, ‘I saw you back in ’95!’ I’ve made a lot of friends on the road.”
An accomplished singer, composer, producer, and arranger (as well as budding actress), one thing is certain—Nnenna Freelon is a true original!