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ReDiscover a STAR

Freda Payne

Freda Payne

ReDiscover a STAR

By Marie Carrie Email: mcarrie305@gmail.com

“Keep your nose clean.”

Freda Payne’s advice to aspiring young recording artists is sage advice to us all.

Ms. Payne’s career has spanned over five decades. She has worked with musical legends from Duke Ellington to Quincy Jones, while carving out a unique place for herself in music history.

Freda was born and raised in Detroit, MI, the birthplace of the “Motown sound”.  And while Freda worked with and knew Berry Gordy Jr., her sound could never be limited by such appellations.

You see Freda started off as a Jazz musician. Her first two albums, in 1963 and 1964, respectively, were both born from the music she remembers listening to and studying as a child.

    Freda: “Uncle Johnny had Duke Ellington records. He had Count Bassie. He had Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovky, and Bach. And he would play clas-sical music and I would put my ear up to the speaker and listen. And I was intrigued. I guess that’s what kind of stimulated my interest in music.”

From these childhood influences, Freda went on to become a successful R&B singer with two gold singles: “Bring the Boys Home” and “Band of Gold”.

But it was her successful run as Leslie Uggams understudy in a 1967 Broadway play that ranks as one of her first shining moments.

    Freda: “One of my first really proud moments was the first night I went on for Leslie in Hallelujah Baby playing the role of Eugenia Johnson.”

Payne’s acting talent did not end with the final curtain call on Hallelujah Baby. She went on to guest star in several mo-vies. From Book of Numbers in 1973 to Nutty Professor II- The Klumps in 2000. And most recently she appeared in the movie Cordially Invited (2007).

While acting feeds a creative need in Ms. Payne, singing is her first love. In fact her career has come full circle and she is currently performing the same music that opened the door for her in the music industry-Jazz.

    Freda: “I started out in jazz. I started out as a jazz singer. I sang with Big Bands. It’s not like I’m learning or trying to acquire an ability to perform jazz.”

Her latest studio effort, a big band jazz ensemble, will be released in February/March of 2014.

Most recently, Ms. Payne has had several engagements in South Florida over the past couple of weeks and will be re-turning home to L.A. to prepare for her revitalization of a play that she first debuted in 2004 and the subject matter of which remains close to her heart.

    Freda: “When Ella Fitzgerald passed away in 1996, I got the idea that I wanted to do Ella in theater. Portray her as an actress and singer. And a few years after that I did a play called “Ella Fitzgerald, First Lady of Song” written by Lee Sommers.”

While the details are still being worked out, the play star-ring Freda Payne, will reopen again in January of next year in Arlington, Va.

The longevity that Freda Payne has experienced as an entertainer is rare in this day and age and when asked what advice she would give to aspiring artists she said, “Keep your nose clean. Try not to have any scandal attached to you.”

She went on to elaborate on a musician she feels is doing a fine job of carrying the torch for young women seeking to be successful and respected in the business.

    Freda: “Adele. I love her. She stands there and opens her mouth and sings. And she has a good voice and she has a good story to tell and she does not move around and shake her hips.”

While many youth of today may shake their heads and dis-miss such “old school” views… there is much to be learned from the wisdom shared by those who have seen it all, done a little and learned a lot.

Just like Ms. Freda Payne.

 

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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