Pierce Freelon is a composer, musician, producer and filmmaker who recently released his debut children’s album “D.a.D.” The album features Pierce’s 10-year-old daughter, Stella, and includes songs such as “Daddy/Daughter Day,” a hip-hop ode to family playfulness and closeness, and “My Body,” an equally celebratory lesson about body autonomy and consent.
He is the founder of Blackspace, an Afrofuturist digital makerspace in Durham, NC and the co-founder of “Beat Making Labs,” an Emmy Award-winning web series produced by PBS. He is also the co-director, writer and composer of “The History of White People in America,” a series of 16 animated short films, the first of which premiered in 2018 at the Tribeca Film Festival. The first three shorts can be seen on PBS’ World Channel.
Pierce has also in recent years thrown his hat into the political ring, having run to be mayor of Durham and for a seat in the North Carolina State Senate. In August of 2020, Governor Roy Cooper appointed him to fill a vacant seat on the Durham City Council.
In this interview with Rob Kramer, Pierce reflects on the leadership legacy left him by his artist parents — his father was the renowned architect Philip Freelon and his mother is Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon — and by the giants in his cultural ancestry. He explains how he has absorbed their lessons to beat his own path of artistic leadership.