Dori Freeman grew up in a musical family in Galax, Virginia. Her father, Scott Freeman, and grandfather, Willard Gayheart, both play music and their family owns the Front Porch Gallery and Frame Shop which is part of The Crooked Road, Virginia's heritage music trail. In an interview with The Bluegrass Situation, she mentioned that a common theme in her music is "dealing with relationships and breakups, and wanting to be strong and independent, but also wanting to have a partner through things.”
Rolling Stone called her first self-named album Dori Freeman on Free Dirt Records "a strong contender for Americana debut of the year. Jon Pareles, wrote in The New York Times "the purity of Dori Freeman’s voice and the directness of her songwriting reflect not only her Appalachian hometown — Galax, Va. — but also a determined classicism, a rejection of the ways modern country punches itself up for radio and arenas. Ann Powers of NPR said the "debut album shows great range and incredible emotional nuance." NPR also said "it's startling to hear such a fully formed singing and songwriting voice come out of nowhere.
“I was brought up here and have spent the better part of my adult life here... I think a large part of America has a very specific idea of what Appalachia or bluegrass is. I think people think of this area and they think of hillbillies and being isolated and poverty and things like that. My experience living here is one of meeting genuine, honest people who don’t have any affectation and are really proud of their culture. I’m really proud of my culture as a result of that.” Her Appalachian upbringing lies at the core of her music - heard especially in the lulling mountain drawl of her voice.