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Nneenna Freelon | Web audio plus

Nnenna Freelon   Marian recently had vocalist Nnenna Freelon on the show, an artist who exudes class and sophistication. Her soulful style informs fresh takes on standards like "Just in Time." (Photo © John Niero.)
Nnenna was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and as a young woman she sang extensively in her community and at church. She graduated from Simmons College in Boston, practiced social work in North Carolina, and raised three children before deciding to go pro.

In the early 1990s, an informal jam with Ellis Marsalis brought her to national attention. She has recorded six albums and is deeply involved in arts education as the national spokesperson for the National Association of Partners in Education.

On the show, Nnenna and Marian discuss the importance of melody, and Freelon surprises her host with an improvised new lyric to "Threnody," one of McPartland's best known compositions.

Nnenna's most recent CD Soulcall (Concord Jazz) was nominated for a Grammy Award. Listen to the album's title track below -- it features guitarist Joe Beck.

Listen to "Soulcall" (Freelon)

In 1997, Nnenna was a guest on Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center. Below are several excerpts from the show.

Listen to Nnenna talk about how she got started singing, the awards she's won, and a few of her musical influences

Listen to Nnenna describe her experience as an artist-in-residence in Brunswick County, North Carolina

Listen to Nnenna respond to an audience member's question about how she chooses her matieral

Listen to Nnenna discuss her plans for the future in creativity education

Maiden Voyage   NPR's Susan Stamberg spoke to Nnenna in 1998 about her CD Maiden Voyage (Concord 1998).
Listen to the interview