Nnenna Freelon

Multi-GRAMMY-nominated jazz vocalist and recording artist

Nnenna Freelon

Multi-GRAMMY® Award nominee Nnenna Freelon is known worldwide as a compelling and captivating live performer.

Accolades, honors, and awards have abounded, including performances at The White House; headlining the Asia Pacific Economic Summit for three hundred presidents, premiers and heads of state; receiving the YWCA of North Carolina’s inaugural “Legend Award” for her outstanding artistry and her dedication to education; and so much more. Nnenna also starred in the critically acclaimed show Georgia on My Mind: Celebrating the Music of Ray Charles. No stranger to the music of the master singer, she toured with Ray Charles, as well as many other great jazz artists, including Ellis Marsalis, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Earl Klugh, Take 6, and others.

Educating young people, both musicians and non-musicians, and students of all ages has propelled her advocacy, Nnenna toured the United States as the National Spokesperson for Partners in Education. Her master classes and workshops, from “Sound Sculpture” to the ground-breaking “Babysong,” instruct adults and children that you too can change the world—even one person at a time—with her anthem “One Child at a Time,” found on her Soulcall (Concord Jazz) recording. From Partners in Education to the United Way, Freelon has been a tireless advocate and fundraiser for education and arts causes.

Amid a burgeoning activity schedule, 2019 and 2020 also brought profound challenges and loss. In 2019, Nnenna’s husband for 40 years, renowned architect Phil Freelon, passed away after his battle with ALS. Within six months, Nnenna’s sister, Dr. Debbie Pierce, passed away from cancer.

In her efforts to find her voice amidst these challenges, Nnenna re-emerged with new ways to share her feelings and express her experiences, including launching an award-winning podcast called Great Grief and releasing a new album, Time Traveler, which received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album and found Nnenna co-hosting and performing at the 2023 GRAMMY Premiere Ceremony. 

Her follow-up 2023 album, Ancestors—a recording collaboration with her son, Pierce Freelon—resulted in a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Children’s Music Album, making Nnenna a seven-time GRAMMY® nominee.