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Nnenna Freelon: Overjoyed

Nnenna Freelon
Nnenna Freelon

Nnenna Freelon is hot. It’s a scorching July afternoon, the mercury hovering just south of 100º, with one master blaster of a thunderstorm looming on the horizon. Peering out from the stage erected at one end of an empty Confederation Park, Freelon wonders aloud what Mother Nature will be up to when, a few hours hence, her outdoor concert at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival gets under way. Meanwhile, there are more pressing concerns to contend with.

Freelon has been traveling since 5 a.m. and now needs to squeeze her soundcheck into 20 minutes. She’s tired and hungry. She’s not happy with the microphone’s range. She senses that one of the monitors is too loud, and she’s a little too aware of the festival’s press rep hovering nearby, signaling that it’s time to depart for a live radio interview across town. Other, more divaesque artists would snap like sun-baked kindling. Not Freelon. Exhibiting the patience and perspicacity that have long been Freelon trademarks, she shrugs off the mounting frustrations with an easy, “Que sera sera” smile.

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