Whether Subway Or Studio, Slim Freedom's Music Connects

Photos by Michael Salisbury

Photos by Michael Salisbury

Slim Freedom exudes wisdom, voice and guitar communicating her person to you in a way few can. She she puts all of herself into it. Voice passionate with guitar that declares itself immediately, Slim goes from delicate to intense instantaneously and is always present, in the moment. 

Her music is surrounded by that philosophy - Slim Freedom is a street performer, who hits the Blue and Red lines on the daily, sometimes as early as 4 or 5 in the morning. The city moves on by, and Slim Freedom shows what she can do. "Blue line, red line, til bed time...BLUE LINE! I didn't forget about you red line, either..."

Street performance is how she pays the bills, and how she made her name. But she's only at the beginning of what's sure to be a long journey. Her musical talent is that next-level, special sauce kind of thing. And for all the people walking around down there, if they hear something, stop, and pay attention, they might see something really special. She may not have an album out yet, but rest assured that few can do it better.

Slim Freedom was all-in with music as early as three. Coming from a church family, Slim's spirituality is as apparent as her musical talent. Her father was a guitarist, and Slim will tell you it was always going to run in the family. She found her way to it on her own, just like she knew she would - the first concert she saw was at a church retreat, and it gripped her. 

"I know it sounds kinda like, ahhhh, a little cheesey, but they was lit, they was honestly giving their whole soul to it. That was the first concert I've ever been to. To see the live music, like all the vibrations pulsating out of the speakers, and then a decent crowd? In the lights, I was like 'man, this is crazy'. And I just envisioned myself up on that stage."

That rapturous love of music never left her. For Slim, it's all live, and she'll find an audience and stage wherever, whenever. And what's incredible about Slim Freedom is her ability to bring it, anywhere and anytime. In the loud, hectic madness of a Chicago subway, Slim has people straining to hear over the noise, missing the train, posting up, and for good reason.

"When I'm in the tunnels, it's balls to the wall, this is me. You rip off your metaphorical clothes and you just get naked like this is what I got at the moment, this is everything that I have. I'm presenting it to you, and I hope you enjoy it. Whatever I'm feeling, if I'm happy, if I'm excited about something, in love, if I'm down or brokenhearted and depressed."

That powerful, emotive touch is something different. It's why she went viral, with a video of her performing Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" filmed by a passer boy at the Washington Blue Line. Just south of 8 million views, reposted by everyone from Snoop Dogg to Usher to George Lopez, it was her major break as an artist.  Once 8 million people saw what Slim Freedom did, things started moving fast. She performed her first sold out show, was on the news, got a team around her. It's definitely a moment, but she came a long way from here.

Slim Freedom has been through a lot, choosing a name that evokes struggle. As a teenager Slim lost her older sister. In the years that followed, there were stints of time done here and there. There were some major lows.  So when you hear that emotion in her voice,  understand that it's coming from somewhere. Slim does the same, and processing that, her past, present, and future, requires reflection.

"If society's hard gonna be hard on you, then you need to build yourself up by being yourself, and by being a better you each chance you get...It's who you are on the inside, and the only one that can examine that is the great divine. I don't know you, you don't know me. I don't know myself! But I'm learning...do the damn thing, be who I am, just be me with more goodness in me. That only comes with time, with learning."

Her favorite color is green, representing growth. Her music reflects that, completely emotionally honest, tangibly so. You hear it during those marathon performances down in the subway that demand your attention, even for the moment. That second where they hesitate and start watching is what Slim lives for, because she inspires them. It's what "Landslide" captured so well. Strangers waiting to get on the train and go home and Slim Freedom stops time.  The video showed a connection visibly form between her and the audience, the moment Slim Freedom lives for.  

"Just a small glance, they might be intrigued and that inspires me, it's some sort of beautiful connection. It's a seed, and they're so beautiful. People don't understand how valuable it is for seeds to be planted, good seeds, of hope, love, peace, you know."

Slim finds herself in a unique situation now. Nothing can be taken for granted, but her musical ability, wisdom, and empathy give her the potential to connect with even more listeners now. The seeds are being planted. Slim Freedom emanates light, goodness - here's hoping she turns this city into a forest.