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American Program Bureau Speaking to the world for over 50 years

Free

Former Co-Host of BET's 106 & Park
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Biography

Free is the effervescent, savvy and fashionable television and radio personality, recording artist and former co-host of BET’s immensely popular, 106 & Park. This hip-hop diva’s casual interview style and experience allowed viewers to gain a unique perspective on their favorite performers and attracted the top names in hip-hop and R&B, helping 106 & Park score higher ratings than MTV’s TRL, its video countdown rival. Though primarily a music oriented show, 106 & Park also addressed more serious topics related to the African American community like Black history and HIV/AIDS awareness. In 2004, 106 & Park won an NAACP Image award for its “Denzel Washington” episode, which addressed World AIDS Day.

A philanthropist, Free also established the Free4Life Foundation, which is dedicated to empowering young people in disadvantaged neighborhoods through programs that encourage literacy, financial education and creative arts. The Free4Life Foundation has created opportunities that inspire, support, encourage and strengthen the healthy development of young people in Boston’s underserved communities. Initially focused on eradicating domestic violence and improving financial literacy, Free is currently in the process of expanding the depth and breadth of the foundation’s scope. Through the foundation, Free also launched the successful fundraising event, Break! Break!, a celebrity billiards tournament that has hosted Alicia Keys, Magic Johnson, Nas, Denzel Washington, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Paul Pierce and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for underprivileged youth.

A multi-talented entertainer and household name in hip-hop loving homes, Free’s journey in the arts began in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, also home to legendary boy band New Edition. “I was introduced to music at very young age, the Whispers, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Natalie Cole, I got a lot of soul in me from those artists.” She was also heavily influenced by rappers like that Biggie, Pac, Jay-Z, Nas and Rakim, all of whom remain her favorite emcees. Free trained as a dancer for 13 years, then formed a singing group with her childhood friends. She named herself “Free” as an expression of her unlimited creative potential. “I write, I sing, I rap, I dance… I didn’t want my talent to be restricted in any one direction.” She put all her energy into becoming an entertainer and made her first television debut as a dancer for Marky Mark’s "Good Vibrations" video.

Free also worked at the Conservation Law Foundation where she advanced from receptionist to Manager of Information Systems. She then moved to New York where she was offered a record deal with Wyclef Jean’s now defunct Refugee All-Stars where she collaborated with internationally acclaimed artists like Earth Wind and Fire, Youssou N’Dour and Bono.

When an old friend encouraged her to audition for new video countdown show on BET, 106 & Park, Free nailed the audition and became one of entertainment’s most recognizable personalities. In 2005, after five years on 106 & Park, Free decided to leave the show in order to continue her creative growth and pursue her deepest passion: music. Previously signed to Elektra records by Sylvia Rhone, one of the music industry’s most respected executives, she completed her long awaited debut album and showcased her dynamic hip-hop style on the Ying Yang Twinz hit single, “Wait (The Whisper Song Remix).” Recently, she served as a celebrity judge for the Boston Celtics’ 2006-07 Dance Team tryouts and was featured in the October 2006 issue of Vibe Magazine.

Free recognizes that though she’s already built a reputation as an entertainer, what matters most is what she’s about to do, and she wants to do everything. “I want to do sitcoms, movies, late night shows. I’m ready to diversify my entertainment experience.” A product of her environment, Free’s feisty strong will and irrepressible spirit shines through in all her projects.

Topics

Free at Last

Free4Life: Getting the Message Out

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