September 9, 2006

Michigan's Musical Connection: Freda Payne

It's Saturday and that means it's time for the latest installment in the series, Michigan's Musical Connection. Looking through my previous entries in this collection I noticed that I had yet to spotlight any female artists. Today we will begin to correct my oversight.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to re-introduce Freda Payne.

Wikipedia -
At an early age, Freda Payne grew up listening to different jazz singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday which helped her develop a taste for music. As a teenager, she attended the Institute of Musical Arts; she soon began singing radio commercial jingles and took part in (and won many of) local TV and radio talent shows. Her polished voice caught the attention of many different people including record producers. Berry Gordy wanted to give her a contract with Motown, and Duke Ellington (after allowing her to sing with his orchestra in Pittsburgh for two nights) also wanted to give her a contract. However, her mother did not permit these and wanted her to finish school first.

In 1963, she moved to New York City and worked with many different singers including Quincy Jones, Pearl Bailey, and Bill Cosby. During that same year, her debut album (of jazz), After the Lights Go Down Low and Much More!!!, was released on the Impulse! label (this album was reissued on CD in Japan in early 2002 and then reissued on CD in the United States in 2005). Three years later, she released her second album of jazz, How Do You Say I Don't Love You Anymore, for MGM. She also made occasional guest appearances on different television shows including The Merv Griffin Show and The Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson).

She even added theatrical credits to her repertoire; she understudied Leslie Uggams for the Broadway show Hallelujah Baby in 1967 and appeared with the Equity Theatre in a production of Lost in the Stars. Although she was doing well at supporting herself in the business, none of these things helped her break into stardom.

It should be noted there is a correction in the Wiki information. It lists Freda Payne as being born on September 19, 1945 when the actual birth year should read 1942.

From Freda's website -
Freda's link with some hometown friends proved to be very fruitful. Brothers Brian & Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier (Holland-Dozier-Holland) were responsible for putting Motown music firmly on the map by writing and producing million sellers for acts that included the Four Tops, Martha & the Vandellas and the Supremes - whose last lead singer is Freda's sister Scherrie - also blessed with an incredible vocal talent.

Holland-Dozier-Holland's newly formed Invictus Records provided Freda with 2 million selling singles - Bring The Boys Home and Band Of Gold plus Deeper and Deeper, Cherish (What's Dear To You) and You Brought The Joy. Freda then moved to ABC and later Capitol Records, releasing the albums Payne & Pleasure, Out Of Payne Comes Love, Stares & Whispers, Supernatural High and Red Hot. 1993 saw the release of her critically acclaimed album An Evening With Freda Payne that perfectly showcases her incredible talents and incomparable jazz styling.

Most recently, Freda Payne is performing her tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and appears in the Sci-Fi movie, Saurian, which is due for broadcast on the Sci-Fi channel later this year.

Here's a clip via YouTube of Freda Payne performing on the Mike Douglas show in 1975.





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