Freedom Williams is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and actor who gained fame as the lead singer and rapper for one of the hottest groups of all time, C&C Music Factory. Thirty years after the release of C&C Music Factory’s hit song, “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” Freedom Williams is still on the scene as an international musician performing and traveling the world, promoting C&C Music Factory as a relevant and international brand.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Freedom has always been passionate about music. In our interview, he discussed how he fell in love with performing at an early age. He said, “When I was seven years old, I was in a play in the second grade, and I played Fredrick Douglas. When I walked on stage, I immediately realized that this was what I wanted to do. From that point on, I knew.”
As a child, Freedom also played the trombone as his love for music grew and grew. Now he can play percussion and guitar which aids him in creating his music.
Some of his musical influences include other iconic artists like Melle Mel, Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Commodores, Dido, and Earth, Wind & Fire, but his favorite band is Toto. In addition to music from the 60s and 70s, the sounds of reggae, house, and hip-hop have influenced Freedom Williams’s expansive music style.
Freedom studied Communications and History at Hampton University in Hampton, VA, an HBCU, then left to attend the Center for the Media Arts in Manhattan in 1987 to study recording engineering. From 1985 to 87, he was in a rap group called Hardcore. He remembered doing radio rap contests at the time and always won first place. In 1987, after returning from college, he began working at Quad Studios. While working there, he was able to mix his first record with Spike Lee and Marcus Miller called “Da Butt.”
Freedom quickly became a rapper people wanted to work with, and early in his career, he was able to make music with many amazing legends. He’s been able to work with artists and groups like Mary Black, Sly Stone, Marcus Miller, Induction, Cameo, KC Flightt, and Larry Blackmon to name a few.
Because Freedom worked with many big-name artists like David Cole and Robert Clivelles, he got the opportunity to become the front man and co-founder of the international multi-platinum selling group, C&C Music Factory. What was originally supposed to be a solo project, ended up being some of the greatest years of Freedom’s career.
With five #1 Dance/Club Play hits, including “Gonna Make You Sweat” (Everybody Dance Now), “Rock N Roll”, “Things That Make You Go Hmmm”, “Just a Touch of Love” and “Do You Wanna Get Funky” in the early to mid-1990s, Freedom Williams was making a name for himself through his music and amazing performances.
In 1991 while their track “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” spent more than six months on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, C&C Music Factory solidified their position as one of the hottest groups of all time after winning the Billboard Award for Best New Pop Artist, beating out Boyz II Men, Color Me Badd, EMF and others. While this group had much success during their time together, the international icons went their separate ways after the passing of one of C&C Music Factory’s members, David Cole.
In 1993, Freedom was able to pursue a solo music career releasing his debut album Freedom on Columbia Records. Even in his solo career, Freedom was always at the top of the charts. His single “Voice of Freedom” peaked at #74 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #4 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 1993. His follow-up single “Groove Your Mind” also charted on the Club Play chart peaking at #33.
Because of his booming solo career, Freedom Williams took the C&C Music Factory brand with him, keeping the name alive and associating the brand with his successful international tours, however, Freedom ran into some trademark issues with the surviving co-founder of C&C Music Factory, Robert Clivelles.
In our interview, Freedom explained that Robert Clivelles didn’t like him using the trademark for his solo career. Clivelles sent cease and desists to different performing coordinators, telling them Freedom couldn’t perform under the C&C Music Factory moniker. After Robert retired, he wasn’t touring or keeping the brand alive, but since Freedom was, he realized the importance of owning the rights to C&C Music Factory.
“I was the only one from C&C Music Factory touring, traveling, and keeping the brand relevant. I own the trademark for C&C Music Factory now, and there’s always been a big controversy about how I got the trademark. The guy in my group (Robert Clivelles) took me to court because he didn’t want me to have the trademark. I ended up getting the trademark because I’m the only one who continues to grow the brand.
“People keep wondering, ‘how did you pull that off?’” he continued, “because all groups have issues with trademarks— the Beatles had an issue for one quick second. The Beach Boys had an issue. Black Street had an issue. Who owns the brand is a really big deal, especially when you’re in a group. So, the fact that I control and own the trademark of C&C Music Factory was a huge win and says a lot.”
In addition to finally being able to own the rights of C&C Music Factory in 2005, one of Freedom Williams’s biggest accomplishments was performing at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York, and working alongside many amazing artists throughout his career.
The whole process of creating music is beautiful to Freedom. He compared making music to his work as an engineer and construction worker. He said, “Making music, coming up with the ideas, creating melody, creating the harmony— the whole process of creating music and art is incredible. I do construction, building homes. I have a construction company, and I built the home I live in, so it’s the same to me. It’s working on houses, and it’s creating different colors. I make my own paint too. Art, to me, is really incredible.”
When asked about his creative process, here’s what Freedom Williams said: “Sometimes I get a beat or melody in my head, or someone gives me a beat or a track. It comes at you in different ways. Sometimes I dream a song in my head, which, you know, you get better at it as you’ve been doing it a long time. You get more fluid at it, but it’s just the creative process of hearing the melody in your head. Hearing where you want to go with the hook, song, or rap. You hear it, then you transform it.”
Performing is a passion for Freedom, and because of his amazing career with C&C Music Factory and as a solo artist, Freedom has performed and traveled all over the road. He said this about performing: “Everything about being on stage is dope. For me, I like to connect with the audience’s energy, just being physical—being physically strong and physically present. Then I lock into the audience.
“That whole entire energy and power,” Freedom Williams continued. “It’s like you’re creating thunder and lightning. That, to me, is being onstage— creating magic and being a sorcerer.”
Through his extensive touring and performing, Freedom Williams has been able to travel all over the world, traveling all over the United States from New York to Texas. He’s also performed in Romania, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Switzerland, and all over Europe and Africa. He’s also traveled all over Asia but said that his favorite places to travel are Malaysia and Southeast Asia.
With the amazing opportunities to travel, Freedom explained that in addition to his performances, he makes music while he travels. He said, “I made a record in the DR, and I made a record in Trinidad. I made a record in Europe and Turkey, so I like to go to the studio when I travel. I take the C&C brand internationally, so I work with artists all over the world.”
In addition to his rewarding music career, Freedom Williams is also an incredible actor. Acting was a passion of his since he was a little kid, performing in plays both in high school and college. Now, he’s acted in several titles including an episode of Red Shoe Diaries, the movie Bound by Debt, and the Netflix series Fifth Borough to name a few. Freedom also has written and directed a short film titled Freedom Williams’ Life Goes On in 2011.
From directing music videos to short films, Freedom enjoys all aspects of the medium. “Acting is the greatest talent to create because in acting and directing you have music, you have fashion, you have culture, you have language, you have everything inside that one medium even construction and building sets,” Freedom said, “but with music, it’s just a musical medium. Directing is my favorite medium.”
When asked about the most rewarding part of his career, he said, “The most rewarding part of my career is being able to live the life that I want, being able to travel the world, and being able to learn more about history. When I travel, I always do documentaries, and I film and post about it. Being able to travel is one of the benefits of being a musician, especially an international musician. When I go to the Dominican Republic, I take in the culture. It’s just absolutely wonderful to have the freedom to travel and work with musicians. It’s amazing.”
What’s next for this iconic sensation? Freedom Williams is an international artist busy with tour dates and an album in the process. He said, “I’m very busy. I’m on the road—mainly in Europe right now. I got an album coming, and I’m mixing it right now! Just a lot going on. The 90s are popular right now, and if you stay in shape and you kind of look like you looked 30 years ago, which is almost an impossible thing to do, if you try hard, you can do it!”
While Freedom is working on his music and himself, he’s also working on a big project inspired by his controversial battle to get the C&C Music Factory trademark. In our interview, he said, “I’m actually finishing a book right now called Lip-Sync, and it’s about trademark infringement and how management companies and how artists infringe upon each other’s rights and who controls the trademark. I’m pretty well-versed in how that functions.”
In addition to all his newest projects, Freedom is excited about his next performance in New York City at the Palladium-Times Square on August 12, 2022.
Here’s some advice from Freedom Williams: “Stay positive. Don’t let the world get you down. There’s a lot going on and a lot of things that are discouraging. So, stay in the light and stay true to yourself. Find your passion, what gets you out of bed in the morning, and try to do that for as long as you possibly can to make a living.
“That’s my goal. I love to travel, and I love history. I’m able to do that while I’m making music, and the music can pay for it. So, find a passion that can pay for all your other passions.”
Freedom Williams has created a legacy that will last forever with his iconic group C&C Music Factory, amazing solo career, extensive experience composing and producing tracks, acting and directing several projects, and living his best life traveling the world as an internationally recognized superstar. Continue to follow his journey through his social media accounts listed below!
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