Wednesday, August 4 kicked off the Capital Concert Series at the Empire State Plaza in Albany and it did not disappoint with headlining act 90s favorite R&B singer, Ginuwine and opening act Freedom Stratton.
Gracing the Albany stage for the first time in 25 years, Ginuwine kept the crowd dancing and smiling with hits like “In Those Jeans” and “Pony.” While a large crowd was drawn to the Plaza with the chance to see an old school performance on a warm summer night, they had the perfect warm-up in the form of an opening act that came across as an artist with years in the business.
Setting off the night of dancing was a young local artist Freedom Stratton. Popping onto the stage with an energy that reached beyond his stature, his vocals and movements took up the massive staging area. Slated to do two 10-minute sets, Stratton focused on his newly released singles. During the first set, listeners got to hear Stratton’s singles ‘Ray Banz’ and ‘Prophecy’, which gave them a taste of Stratton’s clever lyrical power.
Born and raised in Albany, Freedom Stratton very recently celebrated his 21st birthday only days before the performance but is no stranger to the struggle and beauty of making music in the 518. At an early age, Stratton fell in love with musical theater, which led to his participation in high school plays, studying modern dance at Berkshire Ballet, and also a slew of performances in community productions across the Capital Region.
During the second set, he got the crowd dancing to more r&b/pop inspired singles ‘Tell Me What You Need’ and ‘New Things’. The audience bounced and grooved along all the way until Ginuwine took the stage. After Stratton’s second performance NYS Music had a chance to sit down with the budding artist.
NYS Music: What started your career in music?
Freedom: About three years ago I started working with BChaps. Then I had this idea to get a bunch of artists together for an album called “The Future” and it broke over 400,000 streams in less than a year. Then I knew.
NYS Music: What sets you apart from other artists?
Freedom: The drive. The drive to know that nothing is going to happen without you doing something to make it happen.
NYS Music: Do you have a dream collaborator and why?
Freedom: Anderson Paak. Oooh. He’s spicy. He’s spicy right there. I feel like that’s one of the most influential people to me in the music industry. It’s like that newer version of the old school.
NYS Music: Do you have any music that you often listen to these days? And who are the musicians that inspired you?
Freedom: Jason Derulo, gotta throw him in there. Ariana Grande. Justin Bieber, I ain’t gonna lie. I really mess with pop, like Dua Lipa. It’s the kind of music that I’m pushing for. More mainstream but at the same time they can make a heartbreak song, or a happy song, or a love song. I just love the diversity pop brings.
NYS Music: How would you like to see music help the community?
Freedom: Bringing people back together, you feel me? People are literally scared to be around each other. Music can bring us back together.
Things shifted in 2018 though once it became clear to Stratton that pop stardom would achieve his goal of leaving “a legacy. Something that will carry on forever and be able to touch people for generations”. Stratton began working with local music producer, Brian Chiappinelli(B.Chaps) to capture music that makes people happy. All the hard work has already begun to pay off. Just last year Stratton released his first full-length studio album dubbed “The Future”. With a loaded roster of other 518 artists, Stratton pushed himself out of his typical style comfort zone. Not only did the success of the album cause him to release a deluxe version that included a whopping thirty songs but “The Future” was also picked up for distribution by record label Rexius Records in Sweden.
Already back in the studio, Stratton has 2 singles set to be released this month. ‘First Love’ with Kortnee Simmons is dropping on Empire Media on August 13 and ‘For The Summer’ with B. Chaps and Money Montage is dropping on Foundation Media on August 20.
Freedom Stratton is available on all major streaming platforms (iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, and Google Play).
Photos of Freedom Stratton and Ginuwine courtesy of Mirth Films.