Meet The Performers

Visiting Artist

Fred Nelson III

Fred Nelson III, MD, Pianist, Organist, Conductor, Producer, Composer, Arranger is a native Chicagoan where he currently resides.  Blessed with the gift of perfect pitch, Fred’s career began at a very early age.  He was inspired by his father who served as a chief organist at First Church of Deliverance in Chicago.  As an infant his father would strap him to his waist as he practiced.  This was the only way to keep Fred from crying.  By 2 years of age, Fred was playing his first song “Yes Jesus Loves Me”.  Fred’s mom, Octavia continuously filled the house with diverse music from the stereo at the realization of his God given gift.  Fred also has a younger sister Lisa who is as talented as she also has a career in music.  Fred started his formal training at the Chicago Conservatory of music and continued his education at De Paul University and Oberlin Conservatory of Music with a concentration in Organ and Composition.  As a child prodigy, by age six Fred started to perform with the likes of Ray Charles as his opening act for two years.  By age 7, Fred had started his own band called the Midgets who were neighborhood kids that Fred had trained on various instruments.  

As he continued his pursuit, Mr. Nelson’s focus gradually changed from performance to music production and direction.  Through his own music company, Nelson Entertainment Group, Inc. (formerly Third Sound Music) he regularly produces music for local as well as national radio and television commercials.  Fred’s list of clients includes Illinois Lottery, Schlitz featuring the Ojays, Illinois Bell featuring the late Phyllis Hyman, Mazda, McDonald’s, Coca Cola featuring Anita baker, Tide, Pantene, United Airlines and Sears just to name a few. In addition, Fred has also served as a producer and musician for several recording projects. As musician artists include, Celine Dion, Chuck   Mangione, and Neil Diamond and others .  As producer/writer his on CD “The Project” and First Church of Deliverance which charted on the Billboard gospel charts top 5 for 26 weeks.  As Music Director, his credits include several televised events such as the PBS special “Going Home to Gospel featuring Patti La Belle”, The Annual Stellar Awards (MD 1992-present ) and several others.  His live performances as Musical Director and pianist include, George Gurntz’s Cantata performed in Switzerland, Anita Baker, Salute to Leontyne Price at Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony Orchestra featuring The Christ Universal Temple Ensemble, Chicago Gospel Festival , Ben Vereen, Della Reese and many more.  Fred also presently serves as Music Director for Christ Universal Temple founded by The Rev. Johnnie Colemon . 

In addition to concerts, award shows and commercials, Mr. Nelson has performed, arranged and produced music for featured films such as Hoodlums , Love Relations,   My Best Friend’s Wedding , and for the documentary The Invisible Men of Honor: The Legend of the Buffalo Soldiers.   

Fred has served as a elected member of the Chicago Chapter Board Governors for NARAS (The National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences) Committee for the Grammy’s.  To Mr. Nelson’s credit are several recognitions, and awards for his continued pursuance of musical excellence, but Fred considers his most rewarding accomplishment to be his daughter, Paige.  Fred gives credit to God first and a list a mentors who guided and shaped his musical career.  Those being Fred Nelson Jr. (father), Donald Byrd (Fred’s tour arranger and MD with Ray Charles), Robert Mayes (Virtuoso Musician), and Wendell Logan (Fred’s Oberlin College Professor).   Mr. Nelson believes without a doubt that he is merely a blessed channel for God to express Himself and uplift man through music. 

This biography is based on information provided by the artist, ensemble or representatives thereof and may only be as current as the artist’s or ensemble’s most recent performance at Symphony Center.