“I mainly grew up on blues, jazz, folk and opera. My parents exposed me to all kinds of music, but it was my older sister, Laura who introduced me to my true love…Rock n Roll.”
Roberta Freeman was born in Manhattan, and grew up in Brooklyn and the Bronx with parents Gertrude and James Freeman, and her sister, noted author and illustrator Laura Freeman. She attended New York’s Art and Design High School, and it was there that she began her singing career, including a memorable Sally Bowles in Cabaret. After graduation she began singing in bands, performing around New York in places like The China Club, The Peppermint Lounge, The Ritz and Limelight, appearing regularly with The Pedantics.
Introduced to Nile Rogers by Lorelai McBroom, Roberta was soon singing with Pink Floyd on the Momentary Lapse of Reason tour. Soon Roberta was singing with Lou Reed on The Grammys, touring the USA and Europe with Jerry Harrison of The Talking Heads, and appearing on MTV with Billy Idol in his video for Hot in the City, and working with Keith Richards on his Ain’t No Mistake video.
Tapped by Cinderella to join them on their year-long, world-wide Heartbreak Station tour, Roberta appeared in the video for Cinderella’s hit song Shelter Me, with Little Richard. As the Cinderella tour was winding up, Fred Coury got a call from Slash asking if he could recommend a background singer for the upcoming Guns N Roses Use Your Illusion tour. Fred recommended Roberta.
When Roberta got home to New York after the tour, she started working with a band called Rise Robots Rise, where she met singer Tracy Amos. Roberta was told by Fred Coury to expect a call from Slash. Slash and Roberta spoke a few times over a month to discuss the tour, and adding background vocals to the Guns N Roses sound. Roberta recommended Tracy as a second background singer. Slash invited Roberta and Tracy to come to LA to start working with the band. Ready for a change, Roberta packed her bags and moved to LA.
Roberta rehearsed in the San Fernando Valley with the band and created the arrangements for the background vocals. Axl Rose was notably absent from rehearsals, but Roberta worked on the arrangements while consulting with Slash. Just before the first show of the tour, Roberta was finally able to sing the vocals she had created for Axl. He approved the BVs with no changes.
Thus began the legendary Use Your Illusion tour. 197 shows in 27 countries, and GnR became for a time the biggest band in the world. Highlights include the Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium for 72,000 people, performing with Queen, Elton John and other luminaries, and being serenaded by hundreds of fans outside their hotel in Buenos Aires. Roberta and the band played with Metallica, Faith No More, Lenny Kravitz, Joe Perry, Steven Tyler, Jeff Beck, Ron Wood and many others.
After Guns N Roses, Roberta has gone on to tour with John Mellencamp, The Bee Gees, Joe Cocker, Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Engelbert Humperdinck, and many others. Among those she has recorded with are John Mellencamp, David Lee Roth, Nelson, Meatloaf, BB King, Freda Payne, Gilby Clarke, Black Veil Brides, Bernard Fowler, and Nick Waterhouse. In 2017 she appeared on Conan with The Pretty Reckless, and worked on John Batiste’s upcoming album. 2018 has begun with Roberta recoding her third Nick Waterhouse album, her sixth Gilby Clarke album, as well as her own projects.
Roberta lives in Los Angeles and continues to tour and record regularly.