Oral Histories

Interview of Evelyn Freeman Roberts

Bandleader of the Evelyn Freeman Swing Band, Wings over Jordan, Evelyn Freeman Orchestra, and the Young Saints.
Black Music and Musicians in Los Angeles: Spirituals, Gospel, Jazz, and Spoken Word
African American History
Biographical Note:
Bandleader of the Evelyn Freeman Swing Band, Wings over Jordan, Evelyn Freeman Orchestra, and the Young Saints.
Patterson, Karin
Roberts, Evelyn Freeman
Persons Present:
Freeman Roberts, Patterson, and Adriana Montenegro (videographer).
Place Conducted:
Roberts' home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.Original digital video cassettes were deposited with the Department of Ethnomusicology. Additional materials relating to these interviews are located in the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Karin Patterson, UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology.; B.A., Ethnomusicology, UCLA, 1997; M.A., Ethnomusicology, 1999; Ph.D., Ethnomusicology, UCLA, 2007.Patterson was acquainted with Freeman prior to the interview, having participated in a performance ensemble directed by Freeman.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Roberts was given an opportunity to review the transcript but made no corrections or additions.
6 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
These interviews with African American musicians provide details about the narrators' background, training, influences, and musical choices and discuss their contributions, and connections to the music of black Los Angeles. The series was a collaborative project of the UCLA Center for Oral History Research, the Department of Ethnomusicology, and the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, with funding from an Arts Initiative grant from the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture. UCLA Professor Jacqueline DjeDje was the principal investigator and defined the scope and selected the individuals to be interviewed. In addition to the audio recordings housed with the UCLA Center for Oral History Research, the interviews were all captured on video, and those videos can be accessed at the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive.
Childhood in Cleveland—Influence of father, an amateur musician—Early music training– Experience at the Cleveland Institute of Music–Meeting professional musicians as a youth–The Evelyn Freeman Swing Band and Freeman Roberts' relationship with its musicians–Meeting future husband, Tommy Roberts–Leaving Cleveland and traveling to New York– Early New York performing years–Experience in early television in New York–Association with Wings over Jordan–Moving to Los Angeles.
Arranging for brother, Ernie Freeman–Early years in Los Angeles–First musical venues--Association with Los Angeles-based musicians–The performance environment in venues Freeman Roberts played–The Exciting Voices and early recordings in Los Angeles–Dealing with gender and racial prejudice in Los Angeles and in Las Vegas–Instructing professional musicians in music theory.
The origins of the Young Saints–Musicians who were associated with the Young Saints–How youth from Los Angeles communities came to be Young Saints–Tommy Roberts’ role in creating the Young Saints–Freeman Roberts’ role in the Young Saints–Lisa Freeman Roberts’ role in the Young Saints–Early professional performances of the Young Saints–Young Saints' performance deportment–Young Saints' involvement with major television shows–Young Saints' journey to their Nixon White House performance–Young Saints in Las Vegas–Changing the organizational structure of the Young Saints–The Main and Gage facility years.