Composer, Producer, Songwriter
Mar 21, 2021
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Marc Freeman is a musician, composer, sound engineer, producer, and songwriter who has used every key to create musical magic for 40 years. Little did anyone know that there was one key Freeman kept secret and never used. Today, Freeman is on a mission revealing his treasure of musical works that have, until now, been under lock and key. That key, as it turns out, has launched Freeman into the spotlight and is resonating with both his fans and musical colleagues.
Freeman began programming music in the mid-'80s and grew his skills in digital audio workstations over the next twenty years. It was during that time that Freeman worked as a sound design expert in programming and co-producing for major artists. His heart and soul, however, was always in composing and songwriting. In fact, Freeman found a way to both support his family and keep his hand in the music industry. He worked in IT for a major financial institution, sacrificing for his family two decades as a full-time songwriter. He wrote as often as he could and only shared a few original works on occasion with his friends in the music industry. In 1991, Freeman created Innovate Music, his own production company.
Music In The Dark
Growing up, Freeman was an only child raised by his mom and grandmother. Amazingly, he knew nothing of his personal musical heritage until he reached his teen years. He knew his mother played by ear and also that his grandfather and aunt were a musician’s living in New York for much of his life. Freeman believes he inherited some of his musical talents from his grandfather, even though he passed away when Freeman was just a one-year-old.
When Freeman was in 3rd grade, a nun gave him a book titled "Making Music." He brought that book home every day even though he couldn't read a lick of music. Interestingly, it was the title of that book that intrigued and attracted him. His mom had given him a reed organ, and young Marc was equally fascinated as he sat with the book pretending to play. He didn't know it then, but Freeman says that it was that book that changed his life. His other most significant influence came later in life when he heard Gary Wright's song, Dream Weaver, for the first time. The song introduced Freeman to the composition possibilities of synthesizers.
His interest didn't go unnoticed by a close relative, who suggested to Freeman's mom that she get him something he could record himself on. Marc wanted to do more than play music, he wanted to create and record it. His mom took that suggestion and that Christmas her only child received the present of a lifetime, a reel-to-reel recording machine. Before long, Freeman was playing duets with himself and creating harmonies with music on the radio, records, and anything else that spoke the language of music.Even as an adult, he used whatever tools were at his disposal to compose. In one period of his life, when phone answering machines were common, Freeman would call his answering machine and leave a recording of a melody, rhythm, or other musical ideas he needed to get out of his head and later use to finish his composition. Needless to say, Freeman learned to use more sophisticated recording equipment over time.
Marc Freeman comes from a family with deep roots in music, including songwriters, musicians, and composers that date back to well before Freeman entered the picture. Those roots are so deep, in fact, that Freeman was only recently made aware of some accomplishments achieved by his family, including some who worked with Tony Bennett and other well-known artists from that generation. The people in Freeman’s family as he was growing up purposely kept his strong family music ties from him for fear that he might sacrifice his education for working in the music industry. Education was a priority in his family, and many were teachers. To only have recently comprehended the significance of his family musical ties only validates that even the most significant efforts to deny his lineage could not keep Freeman from his musical destiny.
J.C. Higginbotham, Freeman’s great uncle, was a jazz trombonist who played and recorded with many of the premier swing bands of the 1930s and '40s, including Fletcher Henderson, the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, Benny Carter, Red Allen, Chick Webb, and Luis Russell. He later went on to play with Louis Armstrong and also led his own bands in Boston and Cleveland. From 1956 – 1959, Higginbotham made regular appearances at the Metropole in New York and appeared on WNTA TV’s DuMont Jazz Party series in 1958.
Freeman’s Aunt Irene Higginbotham (1918-1988), who lived in New York with Marc’s grandfather, wrote songs for the likes of Billie Holiday ("Good Morning Heartache" 1946), Nat King Cole in the 1930s and '40s. She also wrote for Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Nina Simone, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Peggy Lee, Louis Jordan, and Duke Ellington. Freeman’s Aunt Irene was also a pioneer of Boogie Woogie music and, in 1944, published a songbook titled Boogie-Woogie-Land. He remembers telling his aunt when he was a teenager that he had started playing drums. But when he told her he was playing in a boy band as well, Aunt Irene was not so happy and let her nephew know how she felt! This was an aunt that Freeman spoke with on the phone regularly but had never met in person at that point. She didn't want Marc being around the drugs, alcohol, and drama. Aunt Irene was very special to Marc, and what she didn't know was that, through a pure stroke of luck, some neighbors had moved in next her nephew. They happened to be in the entertainment industry on the management and legal side of the business and were a great source of insight and advice for young Marc. They represented artists like Miles Davis and Luther Vandross.
1977-79 Joined the Boy band Topaaz playing local clubs and talent shows as high school kids and landed a job playing on a local weekly children's show, and they were regulars.
By the time Freeman had reached the age of 20 he had made a big move to Los Angeles to see how he would fare. He wanted to prove to himself and others that what he had to offer was real. Little did he know he would be greeted by the first obstacle of his west coast hopes, a musician’s strike. Fortunately, he made quick work out of finding a place in the boy band, Topaaz. Topaaz landed a job playing on a local weekly children's show and became regulars. For Freeman, it was just the start of what he had set out to do, although somewhat surreal in going from playing at high school talent shows to television and in some of the hottest L.A. music venues .
Freeman overcame all challenges quickly and started another band with a diverse group of musicians that played the L.A. night scene and where they were regulars at the FM Station, the historically famous venuein North Hollywood. Freeman also played drums for a couple of years with Club Nouveau, a popular national act out of Sacramento. After eight years in L.A., he returned to Atlanta where he worked as a programmer and keyboard tech with one of his mentors, Peabo Bryson. Bryson is a double Grammy award-winner and singer/songwriter best known for his R&B soul ballads and contributions to threefeature soundtracks for Disney animated movies. Freeman would throw hints at Peabo about the songs he had started to write, but because he knew the perfectionist Bryson was and what he wanted in a demo, he never completed them.
While Freeman was working on one of the albums for Bryson, the group After Seven (Virgin Records, Entertainment One Music, EMI), they had an urgent need for a programmer and keyboard tech. Freeman took the opportunity which ultimately catapulted him into the next chapter of his career. He continued to write music throughout this period but held his original songs from most everyone.
Current Projects Celebrates An Era Close To Home
Freeman’s compositions are a fresh injection of the organically-created, original sound that takes the listener on a modern artistic journey. His songs offer a brand of variety for audiences from ages 8 to 80.His current project, Decca 4 Generations, is a tribute to the musical accomplishments of his family and the era in which they lived. The project is being developed through Freeman’s production company, iMAJN Music. In several of the songs in this project, Freeman integrates isolated performances of his great uncle’s trombone solo’s. Freeman has had some time now to ingest a full understanding and appreciation for the impact his musical relatives had on generations both past and present. He is also aware of the era of American history in which his family thrived. His ancestors were children living during WWI and, not only endured the hardships of the depression and WWII, they faced the realities of being a black American throughout their lives. Freeman is both proud and inspired by their life stories, which makes the Decca 4 Generations particularly important for him and all who will have the opportunity to hear his reverent homage using live musicians playing a storied compilation of his now unlocked compositions in the jazz and smooth jazz or new jazz genre’s.
Freeman is concurrently creating a second project through iMAJN Music, which he started in 2014.“The Call; Innovation Making A Joyful Noise” (iMAJN). “The Call…” is in a cinematic jazz-fusionstyle (think Pat Matheny meets Yanni).
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