When you own a marketing agency for 25 years, you figure you’re going to have to deal with some bad PR from time to time. Fortunately, my clients have been so stellar that we’ve rarely seen something fall apart that we’ve had to jump on … until Sunday morning, just hours after my dear friend, Janice Freeman, finally rose above it all. She passed on Saturday, March 2nd.

PR “triage” as we call it is never easy. When it’s about the sudden death of one of the most magnificent souls you’ve known personally, it’s so terrible.

Janice had dealt with lupus for years and had come down with a serious bronchial infection in December. She continued to perform everywhere, even flying to Kansas City last weekend to sing at a gala my clients were hosting. This past Saturday afternoon, she told her husband, Dion, that she was having trouble breathing, and she quickly faded from there. He performed CPR until the ambulance arrived, but a mix of pneumonia and a blood clot that traveled to her heart saw her taken from us a short time later at the hospital. She was just 33. She is survived by her husband, her daughter, Hannah, her mother, Jani, siblings and extended family … and extended extended family of thousands of people around the globe.

Laguna Voice Brought Us Together

I first met Janice in 2016 when I was running the Laguna Voice weekly contest with the amazing Francois Dean at Mozambique. Her voice blew the doors out, and she I became fast friends. I remember when she was called to a private audition for the real Voice (of course she blew them away), her time on The Voice with Miley Cyrus and my visits there. In no time at all, my dear social media genius, Stacie Capobianco and I, were answering thousands of comments in Janice’s social media until the wee hours of the morning just to try to help her keep up with all her adoring fans.

Angel Among Us
Over the last several years, Janice struggled with cancer, lupus and homelessness with her husband and children as a result of her vast medical bills.

(Ironically, just hours after dealing with press on Sunday morning, I was off to help at the giant OC Chef’sTable gala event at Disneyland that evening. The amazing folks at Illumination Foundation and 40+ of the most highly acclaimed chefs come together every year in a commitment to end homelessness. As it turns out, the vast majority of people who end up without a roof over their heads are simply enduring circumstances similar to Janice’s.)

Janice never stopped praising her Lord, never stopped smiling, and made everyone in her world feel like the most important person on the planet. She was an angel who chose to touch down, a brief reminder to all of us that life is meant for living to the fullest, expressing your God-given talents, and loving with grace and forgiveness.

In other words, always always choose to rise above it all.

I know this mighty chick will continue to hang with me all the rest of my days. I can already sense her voice in my head and feel her fierce hug wrap around me. Janice, you’ve touched millions of people’s lives, and it was a true gift from God that I was lucky enough to be one of them.

Stay tuned as I receive more details on Janice’s memorial and possible tribute concerts