As one of the few African American women in country music, Adrianna Freeman bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary, displaying a vocal style reminiscent of classic country artists while simultaneously appealing to new fans from diverse cultures.
Born in Tallahassee, Florida, Adrianna was raised on a plantation, the daughter of a sharecropper, Ed Freeman (now, her manager), who played country music constantly on the radio and on records at home. As a girl, she fell in love with the heartfelt stories told in songs by Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline.
At the age of 8, Adrianna began singing in church and at her family’s produce market, to the delight and applause of customers. Increasingly, she dreamed of becoming a professional country singer, without realizing that the music she loved wasn’t what was expected of a Southern black girl.
“When I went to school, some of the kids made fun of me,” she says. “They would ask why I was singing ‘white people’s’ music. I never thought it was weird. To me, it was just good music.”
North to Nashville
After graduating from college, Adrianna hit the road for Nashville, Tennessee. Like many aspiring artists, she performed in small clubs downtown by night, and spent her days pounding the pavement on Music Row, knocking on record companies’ doors.
Adrianna met Teddy Gentry, the co-founder and bass player for the super-group Alabama. After hearing some of her demo recordings, Teddy invited Adrianna to sing on “Teddy Gentry’s Best New Nashville,” a compilation album featuring up-and-coming artists, which he was producing for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store®. Adrianna recorded her song “Run Baby Run” for that project, which received excellent reviews. Adrianna also was honored to receive the highest number of votes of the 12 artists on the album, in a contest sponsored by Cracker Barrel.
Having learned much from working with Teddy, Adrianna felt ready to record her first full-length album, and she invited him to produce. The result, “Either You Do or You Don’t,” is a 10-track album with exquisitely beautiful songs about love and loss.
Initially promoted overseas, where it is often easier for new artists to receive airplay than in America, “Either You Do or You Don’t” attracted the attention of radio stations and programs in Europe, New Zealand and Australia, including the BBC as well as “The American Connection” in Great Britain. British veteran country music presenter Brian Clough, who was recognized by the Country Music Association as International Broadcaster of the Year in 2009, called the album “sheer class.”
Encouraged by the feedback she received from country music fans and programmers, Adrianna decided to release a new single in the U.S., in 2013, on her newly formed independent label, AFM Entertainment Inc. The single, “Just A Girl,” deals with the epidemic of child neglect. Having grown up in a healthy family environment, the issue is not one with which Adrianna has personal experience, but as a mother, is something about which she cares very much.
“I love children and am deeply moved when children are involved in any kind of negative situation,” she says. “As a mother, I think about how I love my son, and I want to take care of him. The first time my publisher played this song for me, the tears just started coming out of my eyes. It put me in a different place than any song I have ever heard.”
Adrianna plans to include “Just A Girl” on an upcoming EP, to be released later in 2013. Currently, it is available through iTunes and Amazon.