Dr. Thomas F. Freeman was born in 1919 in Richmond, Virginia, where he also spent his childhood and attended college. Freeman left Virginia temporarily to serve a nine month contract at Houston's Texas Southern University in 1949. Many decades later, Dr. Freeman is still a professor and debate coach at TSU, on campus six days a week, and has helped multiple generations of young Texan African-American students find their voice and rise to new heights of scholarly achievement. A pillar of the Houston community, Dr. Freeman also has ministered at Mt. Horem Baptist Church for more than 65 years, still delivering sermons every Sunday; taught Religious Studies at Rice University for 20 years; helped found Houston's Model Cities program; founded and served as Dean of TSU's Weekend College; was the Founding Dean of TSU's Honors College; and over the course of his teaching career, taught and influenced many prominent African-Americans leaders, including Otis King, Barbara Jordan, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Maestro Paul Freeman, younger brother of Thomas F. Freeman, was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1936. Paul Freeman earned his doctorate from the Eastman School of Music, then, on a Fulbright Scholarship, studied at the Berlin University of the Arts. Throughout his distinguished career, Freeman has conducted the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Helsinki Philharmonic, and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. He served as Music Director of the Opera Theatre of Rochester and the Victoria Symphony in Canada. In 1987, Freeman founded the Chicago Sinfonietta where he was Conductor and Music Director until his retirement in 2011. With the Chicago Sinfonietta, Freeman aimed to make classical music more accessible to a broader audience. He developed its composers and board out of diverse ethnic populations and backgrounds, which is reflected in the Sinfonietta's audience that is, on average, about 45 percent people of color. Paul Freeman is recognized as one of the first and most successful African-American conductors.