When I was 16 years old, my church hired a new organist. I was shocked to see a fellow 16 year old take his place at the Hammond B3. His name was Philip Gordon Freeman. On that Thursday night choir rehearsal, I didn't realize what a musical powerhouse I was encountering. But it wouldn't be long before I would see how profoundly gifted and annointed he was. In our senior year of high school, he helped form a new young adult choir at Koinonia Missionary Baptist Church. The Voices of Inspiration would become a powerhouse group despite its small size. Philip would pull us out of our shells and unleash the strong voices that were inside. At a time when I was still insecure about my singing, he helped me discover just how big my sound could be. The singer I am today was definitely largely shaped by those years singing under PGF's direction. I grew so much vocally as well as a director and overall musician. But I also loved how this young man had such a serious commitment to the Lord and music ministry. He didn't just want us to sing to sound good, but to think about what we were ministering!!
Philip could be quiet and reserved, but was also hilarious and could act a fool!!! That big ol' smile could light up a room!! We knew how to work hard but also had a great time. The Voices of Inspiration was a real family, with Phil as its young father. Those years were so great for me with him and the group. He would eventually become Director of Music, garnering respect from those much older than himself because of his discipline and vision.
On Wednesday, September 15, 2010, Philip G. Freeman passed away in Gary, IN. He was 41 years old. Four months older than me. He is the second friend of my same age to die in just over a month. Though I am glad that he is at rest, my heart still aches knowing that we'll never get to sing or laugh together again on this side. I will always treasure his friendship, teaching, and loving spirit.
Philip Gordon Freeman 2/12/1969-9/15/2010 RIP. I love ya, man!!!