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Jazz Feature Story
Nnenna Freelon

Nnenna FreelonA “spell-binding professional, who rivets attention with her glorious, cultivated voice and canny stagecraft”, this six-time Grammy nominated jazz singer continues to produce music that entertains, and entrances! Nneena Freelon was introduced to the jazz world in 1992 with the release of her debut CD Nnenna Freelon. Followed by Heritage in 1993 and Listen in 1994, Nnenna resulted in her first Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Performance in 1996 from her Shaking Free CD. Since then she has earned five additional nominations for Best Vocal Performance, Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying a Voice, and Best Jazz Vocal Album. A composer, arranger, producer and educator, Nnenna is a mulit-talented jazz singer who has graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards Show, the Apollo Theater, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the White House and more.

Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, singing was an important part of Freelon’s youth as she sang extensively in her community and church. She also attributes her appreciation of all kinds of music to her parents who exposed to her to “a wide musical environment”. She earned a degree in health care administration from Simmons College in Boston, and worked in this field before marrying and raising her family in North Carolina. She continues to maintain her ties to the health-care field through her Babysong workshops. Launched at Duke University Medical Center in 1990, these workshops “teach young mothers and healthcare providers the importance of the human voice for healing and nurturing”. Freelon also stresses “the importance of parents singing to small children to help enhance brain development”. Having raised three very talented and successful children, along with her husband architect Philip Freelon, certainly proves her point on the importance of music.

Nnenna Freelon's dedication and hard work in the schools has caught the attention of the National Association of Partners in Education, an organization that represents more than 400,000 school/community partnership programs across the United States. Freelon was appointed their national spokesperson and is working with the organization's seven million volunteers to help improve the quality of American education by supporting arts education programs.

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