More than thirty years ago, Chris and Darrell Freeman began the family musical legacy known as the Freemans. Their name is synonymous with gospel music. The Freemans have recorded 25 albums and garnered seven number one songs, and the foundation of their success has been the blessing of close-knit family ties paired with a passion for music that glorifies the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Having been influenced by the very roots of gospel music at the young age of 10 years old, Chris Freeman said her earliest memories of gospel music stem from hearing gospel music legends like Andraé Crouch and the Disciples, the Speers, the Happy Goodmans, and the Oak Ridge Boys. Yet the biggest musical influence on her life would be none other than her dad. “My dad was a pastor and a preacher. In fact, he also sang. He made his kids practice. We hated practicing. I don’t regret it now, but I hated it then. But he’s probably been my greatest influence,” said Chris.
Although her dad pastored a church and was also a singer when she was a young girl, Chris always felt down deep in her heart that there was more out there in the way of ministry. She auditioned more than once for positions singing gospel music, but rejection sent her home from Nashville, and back to California. Still, she now sees how God’s hand was working in her life all along, even from the very beginning.
“I’ve always felt (that) the Lord has a plan for everyone,” says Chris. “The fact that the Hinsons came into my life, I know God had a plan, especially the way that it all happened. I flew to Nashville to stay with some family friends. I went in to try out for the Speers and they couldn’t use me because I couldn’t read music, which killed me. I was embarrassed and humiliated, but after that, I tried out for the Gospel Singing Jubilee. The ones who listened said I had no charisma.
“As a teenager, I felt with all of my heart that I could sing,” remembers Chris. “Before I went back to California, I went to the National Quartet Convention. I was just in hog heaven because I got to see all of these groups, like the Rambos and the Goodmans. The very last group to come on that night was a group from California, which excited me. When the Hinsons came out to sing, I felt sorry for them because they were going out to sing about 1:30 in the morning. But when they began to sing and the power of God anointed them, people were on their feet no matter what time it was. I thought, ‘This is what I want, Lord, I want to sing one day with family, my family.’ I went back to California discouraged and broken-hearted.”
When Chris returned home, her dad gave her some valuable advice to encourage her after this disheartening experience. He said, “Chrissy, God has a plan. Stay faithful, God has a plan.”
Chris sat in her dad’s church and prayed, “Lord, if this is where you want me, right here in this church, this is where I’ll be. I want your will in my life.” Little did Chris know that God’s plans for her life would take her farther than she ever dreamed, beginning with that group she saw sing in the wee hours of the morning at the Quartet Convention.
“What was so ironic was the fact that I went back with the Hinsons since they were regulars on the Gospel Singing Jubilee. So when it was time to start the new season, I was there. I thought to myself, ‘well, I brought my charisma with me this time.’ It was a journey, an experience that I don’t regret. They were training grounds for me. I learned a lot from them and I believe that’s why, when I married Darrell, we were eventually able to start our own group, since his family retired and they didn’t want to travel anymore. That was the beginning of the Freemans.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” When Chris depended on the Lord and prayed for his will in her life, God honored her request and opened the door for her to pursue a family ministry, just as she had longed for as a teenager. Chris’ experience is the perfect illustration of how the Lord will give us the desires of our heart when we put our trust completely in him (see Psalm 37:4-5).
Today, the Freemans continue to nurture their gospel music roots, as they travel across the United States throughout the year, ministering at many different churches and concert venues. The group is currently comprised of Chris and Darrell, along with their children, Misty and Caylon, as well as Darrell’s cousin, Joe. Musical talent certainly runs in the family, as Misty and Caylon are not only vocalists but accomplished musicians as well. Joe adds to the family harmony with his unique vocal talent, and he also serves as the group’s keyboardist.
Although Chris may be the matriarch of this musical family, Darrell also brings his musical heritage, having begun his gospel music career at the tender age of 13. He got his start singing with his family, the Pathways, from Sandusky, Ohio. When he was 20 years old, he met his future wife, Chris Hawkins, who had sung her way into the hearts of gospel music fans for seven years with the Hinsons. Darrell fell in love with this young lady who had been voted the Queen of Gospel Music for two consecutive years. They were married over 30 years ago, and as they say, the rest is history.
As Chris and Darrell continue to carry on the family legacy, Misty realizes how blessed she is to have a family who is supportive of her as a wife and mother, as well as a member of the group. She said she was blessed to grow up in a family where God, family, and ministry all blended together in one accord. Misty is also striving to pass down these same values to her nine-year-old daughter, Adelaide, and her seven-year-old son, Lincoln.
“Though I may be tired and busy most of the time, I’m so thankful for my heritage and that my children get to experience full-time ministry. I thank God that he has given me all the desires of my heart to also have a normal home life, too,” says Misty.
Maintaining a work-life balance is difficult, considering Misty’s husband of 13 years, Bryce, works a corporate job and is unable to join the family for the majority of concert appearances. Additionally, Misty has a salon business in Nashville during the week. Still, Misty says she wouldn’t change a thing, given that she wants to give her kids the best of both worlds, including the ability to experience life on the road while maintaining involvement in extracurricular activities, such as Adelaide’s recent lead role in a special musical performance.
The Freemans are excited about their latest single which has been released to radio stations nationwide. The song is titled, “Send An Angel By My Way” (also known as “King Jesus”), and was written by Darrell’s uncle, Joe Freeman. Darrell said the song is based on Psalm 91:11 (NIV), which says, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” Because this song is so special to their family, they also filmed a concept video which will be released soon.
The Freemans latest project titled, “Tower of Song,” features this new single, along with many other songs which are quickly becoming fan favorites, such as “It Still Takes the Blood,” “Chain Breaker,” “When He Loves Me the Most,” and “Tears Will Never Stain the Streets of That City.”
As the Bible says in the book of Ecclesiastes, the best is yet to come for the Freemans. Having recently celebrated their 23rd Annual Homecoming in Boles, Ark., on May 4, 2019, along with Jeff and Sheri Easter, and Gerald Crabb, the Freemans look forward to many more wonderful years of ministry to come.
The musical journey of the gospel singing family known as the Freemans may have had a bumpy start sprinkled with disappointment, but God knew what he was doing when he put Chris and Darrell Freeman together. Their family’s musical traditions and their love for one another has allowed this group to blossom into one of the most beloved musical families in gospel music. Without a doubt, this group will continue to sing the Lord’s praises for another 30 years. Their dedication to gospel music and each other will ensure their musical roots continue to run deep.
By Jennifer Campbell
Jennifer Campbell is a regular contributor to SGNScoops Magazine. She is an author, artist, teacher, and speaker. For more information, please visit her website here.
First published by SGNScoops Magazine in May 2019.
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