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University of Iowa News Release

March 18, 2005

Jazz Vocalist Freelon Returns To Hancher For April 9 Concert

Jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon, a five-time Grammy Award nominee, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 9 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

During her return to Iowa -- she performed in Hancher during the 1994-95 season -- Freelon will also present a workshop for students at Davenport Central High School and conduct a "Babysong" workshop in the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

A 6 p.m. Hancher Cafe dinner will precede the concert. Advance dinner reservations are required.

Freelon will come to Iowa fresh from her performance with the Count Basie Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the venue where her latest CD, "Live," was recorded for release last fall.

Freelon has earned a reputation as a compelling and captivating live performer, combining traditional jazz vocals with elements of gospel, pop, R&B and hip-hop styles. Her recordings range from standards to a CD of songs by Stevie Wonder.

Robert L. Daniels wrote in Variety, "Nnenna Freelon possesses that rarest of qualities . . . she makes (standards) sound freshly minted, refreshingly new . . . her phrasing is original, surprising . . . she mines the (melodies) for new and hidden meaning . . . and imaginative spirit that reaches out and bubbles over."

In 2001, she inspired a standing ovation from 20,000 music-industry insiders and celebrities when she took to the stage at the 43rd annual Grammy Awards telecast from Los Angeles.

Her performances for Julie Andrews at the Society of Singers' "Ella Awards," as a featured vocalist at the Stephen Sondheim Tribute at Carnegie Hall and at major jazz festivals around the globe have been rousing successes.

Freelon made her feature film debut in the Mel Gibson hit "What Women Want," and sang a remake of the Sinatra classic "Fly Me To The Moon" for "The Visit," starring Billy Dee Williams.

She is a winner of both the Billie Holiday Award from the Academie du Jazz and the Eubie Blake Award, and has twice been nominated for the "Lady of Soul" Soul Train Award. Freelon has performed and toured with a veritable who's who in jazz, from Ray Charles and Ellis Marsalis to Al Jarreau and George Benson.

Freelon began offering her "Babysong" workshops in 1990 at Duke University Medical Center. Since that time, she has sung to new mothers and babies in many hospitals, and has offered "Babysong" as a mini-workshop for parenting classes.

In these classes, she encourages parents to sing to their babies as often as possible, because infants can distinguish sounds from about six months gestation and are already very familiar with the sounds of their parents' voices at birth. She stresses that singing to a baby is a way of nurturing and stimulating brain development, and it also provides a creative outlet for both parent and child.

Freelon's dedication to education led to her appointment as spokesperson for the National Association of Partners in Education, an organization that represents school/community partnership programs across the United States.

The local sponsors of the April 9 concert are Drs. Lisa and Amir Arbisser, Eye Surgeons Associates, Inc.; and OPN Architects, Inc., through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $32/30/27; UI student $28.80/15; senior citizen $28.80/27/24.30; youth $22.40/21/18.90. Dinner tickets are $25.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

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