Rare Country Star Spotlights Child Abuse Epidemic

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FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- Nearly five children die in America every day from abuse or neglect and thousands more suffer in silence.

One rising music star is using her voice to shine a light on the problem. Her unique story is making even more people pay attention.

Adrianna Freeman's voice began climbing the charts in Europe a year ago. It's now on the rise in America and there is no denying her talent.

But the African American woman is a rare find in country music. In a recent interview with CBN News, Freeman recalled falling in love with country music while watching its impact on her father.

Daddy's Favorite

"I was growing up as a child because my father was very much into country music and that was just kind of unheard of in the African American home," Freeman said.

"I'd come out singing these little country songs and people would be like, what in the world are you doing? I didn't know any better, I just knew it was great music," she said.

Freeman began singing on her family's farm in Tallahassee, Fla., when she was just 4 years old. She scored her first gig at age 8, playing at their farmer's market.

"I sat there and I sung, 'The Yellow Rose of Texas' and people just stopped and bought fruit and all this kind of stuff," she recalled of those early days at the farmer's market.

"So after that, my dad was like, 'Oh yeah, I know how to get people to buy stuff.' And so they made me do it every weekend," she said.

Her dad paid his little girl with popsicles and chicken. That paycheck encouraged her to grow up singing.

Meeting Gentry

Her talent even caught the eye of a country music hall of famer, Alabama's Teddy Gentry.

"So, you want to be a country music [singer], huh?" Freeman recalled Gentry saying in their first meeting.

"Yes, sir, I do," she responded.

Gentry then warned, "You know it is a lot of hard work. No one is just going to hand it to you."

"Yes, I do. I know it is hard," Freeman answered, and she sang a song for him on the spot.

The performance landed her a spot on Gentry's "Best New Nashville" album competition, which she won.

The Failed Record Deal

Even after that win, country music success has not been easy. The lowest blow came just two years ago when her long-awaited record deal came and went.

The painful memory is still fresh for her.  

"I mean I was in tears driving to work, and I am tearing up now, and God put a song in my heart," she told CBN News.

Her song of surrender says, "Have it your way Lord. Have it your way. Not mine, but your way Lord. Your will, I pray. I am tired, Lord. I have no more faith. But have it your way, Lord. Have it your way."

Freeman's independent project, "Either You Do or You Don't," is now on a steady climb up the charts in Europe and America. And the music video for her new single, "Just a Girl," is capturing eyes, as well as hearts.

Music that Makes a Difference

"Just a Girl" is a song about the horrific epidemic of child abuse and neglect.

"I'm hoping with this video and with the song to bring more awareness to that someone who is hearing it will say that is my life and I need to shape up. I need to look at my child," Freeman said,

"I told myself and I told God, I said, 'You know, if I save one, that is all I ask for, is just one child, just one child to be saved, then I am happy," she said. "But I believe wholeheartedly that more children are going to be saved and that just makes my heart leap."

That song is now the theme song for National Network for Youth. The Washington, D.C.-based organization works with runaway, homeless, and troubled children. 

CBN News spoke with Freeman on a recent visit to one of its facilities. It's this work with children that makes her long road to recording success worth it.

And she doesn't mind being a rare find in country music.

"With God, anything is possible, even the impossible," Freeman said. "So, as being one of the 'plowers' for this, it always comes with opposition. Nobody ever said plowing was easy, but somebody has got to do it."

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Efrem Graham

Efrem Graham

News Anchor & Reporter

Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.