The Free Design was a Delevan, New York-based vocal group playing jazzy pop music. Their music can be described as sunshine pop and baroque pop, which were pop music subgenres at the time, which later influenced such bands as Stereolab or The High Llamas.
The members were all members of the Dedrick family: Chris Dedrick (12 September 1947–6 August 2010), sister Sandy and brother Bruce were the original lineup. Chris Dedrick wrote most of the songs. Younger sister Ellen joined the group later, and youngest sister Stefanie(1952–1989) joined near the end of their initial career. Their father, Art, was a trombonist and music arranger. Their uncle Rusty Dedrick was a jazz trumpeter with Claude Thornhill and Red Norvo. They formed the band while living in New York City. Chris has said the group was influenced by vocal groups like The Hi-Los (who performed in Greenwich Village frequently at the time) along with Peter, Paul and Mary and the counterpoint experiments of Benjamin Britten. Their trademark sound involved complex harmonies, jazz-like chord progressions, and off-beat time signatures, all products of Chris's classical training.
The band released seven albums from 1967 to 1972, the first six on Enoch Light's Project 3 label and the last one, There is a Song, on the Ambrotype label. For the most part, they were accompanied on the albums by studio musicians.
After the band's breakup in 1972, Chris Dedrick recorded a solo album, Be Free, which went unreleased until 2000. He moved to Toronto, Canada, where he became a music producer, arranger, and a classical and soundtrack composer. He has worked with directors Guy Maddin and Don McKellar, winning a Genie Award for Maddin's The Saddest Music in the World, and he made music for the Ray Bradbury Theater TV-series. In 1997 Dedrick won a Gemini Award for his work on the television series Road to Avonlea.Chris was nominated a total of 16 times for Gemini awards, winning a total of four, the others for "Million Dollar Babies, "Shipwreck on the Skeleton Coast" and "The Great Canadian Polar Bear Adventure." He won a Socan award for "Tripping the Wire" and a Hot Docs award, also for "Shipwreck on the Skeleton Coast."
Starting in 1976, Chris, Sandy and Ellen became the core members of The Star-Scape Singers, a classical vocal ensemble led by Dr. Kenneth G. Mills. Chris Dedrick also served as the group's main composer. The group performed and toured extensively throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
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