Nnenna Freelon

Nnenna Freelon, six-time GRAMMY(r), Award nominee, has a well-deserved reputation for being a captivating and engaging live performer. Nnena was a star in “Georgia On My Mind: Celebrating The Music of Ray Charles”, a critically-acclaimed show at the Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas. Nnenna has toured with Ray Charles and many other great jazz musicians, including Ellis Marsalis, Al Jarreau and George Benson. Nnena is especially excited about her new venture as the creator, composer, and producer of The Clothesline Muse’s original theatrical production. This theatrical piece combines dance, music and spoken word with projections and art. She is also a star of the musical theater piece. The Clothesline Muse was first performed at Philadelphia’s Painted Bride Arts Center in 2013. It will be touring the country in 2015. With the help of Maya Freelon Asante, her daughter and Kariamu Wales, Chairman of Dance at Temple University, the production was possible. The National Theater Project grant for creation was awarded by the New England Foundation for the Arts, a highly sought-after honor that is only given to six people. The National Performance Network also supported the play. In virtually all markets, the performances will be accompanied with a residency. This is a type of outreach to the community. Special daytime performances will be offered in some markets for children. The play explores the intergenerational relationships between Grandma Blu (played by Freelon) and Mary Mack (played by Cloteal Horne). The clothesline is transformed into a magical space where stories are told and memories shared. Nnenna explains that Mary, a young girl, has little interest in the past. However, she discovers that there is more to the clothesline than just white sheets. The Clothesline Muse also features Horne and Freelon as well as five dancers and original music by Freelon. She isn’t her first time acting. Freelon’s feature film debut was in What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson. Nnenna is a respected artist and has a passion for education. The White House invited Freelon to be the Asia Pacific Economic Summit’s headliner in November 2011. This summit brought together 300 Premiers, Presidents, and Heads of States from all over the world. After receiving the YWCA of North Carolina’s inaugural “Legend Award”, Freelon was recognized for her exceptional artistry and dedication to education. Freelon is a dedicated educator, and has worked with students of all ages and musicians. As the National Spokesperson of Partners in Education, she toured the United States four years. Master classes and workshops she led, ranging from “Sound Sculpture” and the groundbreaking “Babysong,” taught adults and children alike that they too could change the world -;;; one person at a moment. Freelon began fundraising to help children through mentoring and the arts. Many organizations, including the United Way, have made it a highly-respected song. Nnena won the Langston Hughes “Ask Your Mama” composition by Laura Karpman at The Apollo Theater, and at the Hollywood Bowl concert featuring Jessye Norman, an opera star, and The Roots, an indie rock band. Nnena also impressed audiences at Tanglewood Jazz Festival’s SRO shows with “Dreaming The Duke”, a Duke Ellington-inspired song, featuring classical star Harolyn Schwarzwell and pop-jazz-crossover pianist Mike Garson. Nnenna isn’t limited to performing. In Performance At the White House was Nnena’s TV appearance. It celebrated the 20th anniversary of Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. This led to her being featured on Mad Men as a composer/songwriter. The collaboration was then followed by another tour with Earl Klugh, the legendary guitarist. She had her first collaboration in 2012 with Ramsey Lewis, the legendary pianist. Nnenna is no stranger to honors and awards. Bennett College for Woman named her a 2010 “Woman of Substance”, and she delivered the Keynote Address at the 2010 Arts Midwest Conference. Freelon has been awarded the Billie Holiday Award by the prestigious Academie Du Jazz, and the Eubie Blake Award at the Cultural Crossroads Center. The Soul Train Awards nominated her twice as “Lady of Soul”. She received a standing ovation at the 43rd Annual GRAMMY Awards Telecast from Los Angeles. This was in addition to an enthusiastic standing ovation by 20,000 industry insiders as well as celebrities, when she took to stage. Similar reactions are received for her regular television, concert and special event performances, such as the prestigious headline spot at ActionAID, Sir Elton John’s International AIDS fundraiser. Freelon was born and raised in Cambridge Massachusetts. She received her undergraduate degree at Simmons College in Boston. The singer was first exposed to jazz music by her parents, who were also vocalists in their church. Freelon discovered music through her father’s Count Basie recordings, and the active involvement of her mother in their church. She chose to pursue a career as a jazz musician, where she excelled. Freelon has always cherished her most important roles in life -;;; as a wife and mother. Phil Freelon, her husband, is an award-winning North Carolina architect. Freelon, a mother to three children, has set an example for others: follow your dreams, be dedicated, and work hard at all you do. Both her solo albums as well as those she has collaborated on or performed duets have earned her consistent respect and sales. Nnenna has left a rich and diverse legacy through her creativity and her performances, which have attracted a growing fan base from leaders to audiences around the world. http://nnenna.com

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