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Derek Gordon discusses Nnenna Freelon's performance at the KC Jazz Club
Nnenna Freelon (vocalist) a five-time Grammy Award Nominee, was introduced to music in church heard and the work of Odetta, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughn through her parents' record collection. She has worked with Dr. Billy Taylor, Yusef Lateef, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Ellis Marsalis, Dr. George Butler, and Dianne Reeves. She has toured with Ray Charles, Al Jarreau and T.S. Monk's Tentet, among others. Her Concord releases, Maiden Voyage and her debut Shaking Free, both earned Grammy nominations; Shaking Free also clinched a top slot on the Billboard jazz charts. Her sixth release as a leader and her first as producer, Soulcall, earned Ms. Freelon her fourth and fifth Grammy nominations as Best Jazz Vocal Performance and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying a Vocal for “Button Up Your Overcoat.” Ms. Freelon's most recent release, Tales of Wonder (Concord Jazz, June 2002) is a tribute to the work of Stevie Wonder. She has performed with Julie Andrews at the Society of Singers Ella Awards, Variety 's The Children's Charity, the Stephen Sondheim Tribute at Carnegie Hall, and the 43rd annual Grammy Awards. Ms. Freelon made her feature film debut in the Mel Gibson movie What Women Want and reinterpreted Frank Sinatra's classic “Fly Me To The Moon” for The Visit starring Billy Dee Williams. She is National Spokesperson for Partners in Education. Ms. Freelon has won the Billie Holiday Award from France's renowned Academie du Jazz , the Eubie Blake Award, and has received two “Lady of Soul” Soul Train nominations. An audience favorite at the Kennedy Center, Ms. Freelon has appeared as part of the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival (May 1998), in a performance on the Millennium Stage (October 30, 1998) that drew thousands, and with Take 6 in two sold out performances in the Terrace Theater as part of the Louis Armstrong Legacy Series (November 16, 2001). She returned to perform with her band in the KC Jazz Club February 21 and 22, 2003.