About Nnenna Freelon - NCCU Jazz Studies - 33rd Annual Jazz Festival

Authentic -|- Soulful -|- Orchestral

Praised for its authentic, soulful, and orchestral sound,  The String Queens (TSQ) is a dynamic trio that creates stimulating musical experiences that inspire diverse audiences to love, hope, feel, and imagine! With an array of repertoire spanning from the Baroque era to the Jazz Age to today’s Billboard Hot 100 Chart, TSQ performs versatile programs that take listeners on a rousing musical journey through time and a multitude of musical genres.


Based in Washington, D.C., TSQ has been featured in performances at renowned concert halls and venues across America, including Carnegie Hall in New York City and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in the nation’s capital. Notable appearances include a special performance dedicated to Vice President Kamala Harris at the “We Are One” Presidential Inauguration Concert in January 2021 and rendering a spotlight presentation of TSQ’s electrifying arrangement of Harry Styles’s hit song “Golden” for the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament “The Championships, Wimbledon” in June 2021. As an ensemble who frequents the D.C. jazz scene, other headlining performances include multiple appearances at the DC Jazz Festival and the Capital Jazz Fest.


Recognized by D.C.’s leading news network WUSA9 as “school teachers by day and concert performers by night”, TSQ’s dedication, service, and innovative work in the field of music education has been acknowledged by the DC Jazz Festival with the “Jazz Education Award” in 2022, Carnegie Hall with the “Music Educators Workshop” Keynote Address in 2021, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with the “Aspire Award” in 2020, Washington Performing Arts’s “Mars Arts D.C” Resident Ensemble in 2019 and 2020, and most recently, a partnership with the Save The Music Foundation to present a series of professional development workshops for performing arts educators around the country on “Social Emotional Learning in the Arts Classroom” and “Trauma-Informed Centered Arts Classrooms” as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


In August 2022, TSQ released its third album titled “RISE”, which was made possible by a Sphinx Organization MPower Artist Grant. With this album, TSQ sought to sonically address the problems that are currently plaguing the world by creating unique arrangements of timeless classics rooted in hope, joy, peace, and love. Featuring original compositions by Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Richard Smallwood, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, and more, “RISE” takes listeners on a musical journey that starts in a field of loss and hopelessness and ends in a fortress of faith, triumph, and fortitude. 


Previous albums from TSQ include a self-titled EP released in 2019 and a holiday EP titled “Our Favorite Things” released in 2020. All TSQ albums are available on this site and all major digital music platforms.


Read more here about each member, Kendall Isadore (violin); Dawn Johnson (viola); and Élise Sharp (cello).



North Carolina Central University - Department of Music

The Department of Music at North Carolina Central University is dedicated to preparing students — through innovative teaching methods, individual attention and excellent facilities — to excel as leaders in the music professions. Visit us at https://www.nccu.edu/cash/music.

Our greatest desire is to serve you on your journey as a musician with an experience that is both memorable and impactful. In this 21st-century new music business, our programming, degree structure and department culture are designed for you to become well-equipped and sufficiently tooled for success.

We accomplish this by offering you the opportunity to learn from an award-winning faculty. Our faculty comprises practitioners, scholars and researchers who have thriving careers, enhanced by GRAMMY-awarded artists-in-residence. Our Visiting Guest Artist Series puts internationally renowned music professionals in one-on-one settings with you as the recipient of a vast pool of knowledge.

Finally, our touring and performing ensembles — in which you will have membership — facilitate your experience on national and international festival stages and arts conferences. When you join our Eagle family to earn a degree from the NCCU Department of Music, you will garner tools for success to soar. How high you fly is up to you!