Freda Payne with the Ralphe Armstrong Trio
Freda Payne is a native Detroiter but has been a southern California resident for many years. She started her singing career in Detroit at the early age of fourteen years old. Was once the first female protege of Berry Gordy Jr. before he founded Motown, but her mother didn’t approve of her signing a management contract with him. Little did anyone know of what was to become the greatest R&B record company of all time. As fate would have it, Freda’s life would take a different turn. She did radio commercials and was a regular in a radio show on station WJR featuring young teens and some young adults called Don Large’s Make Way For Youth. It was broadcasted in the Fisher Bid. In Detroit. At the age of seventeen Freda was sought after by the great Duke Ellington to sing with his big band, but once again fate took a turn, it would not come to be….Mr. Ellington would not compromise in contractual agreements. Freda would go on to perform with the great Quincy Jones band in New York at the Apollo Theatre with Billy Eckstein who was the head liner, along with comedian Red Fox, and Coles and Atkins a tap dance team. Freda would also tour with Lionel Hampton and his orchestra. Her theatrical credits are Hallelujah Baby on Broadway, Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies’, Jelly’s Last Jam national tour, The Blues In The Night, Ella Fitzgerald First Lady Of Song, The Divorce a play by Donald B. Welch and A Change Is Gonna Come. Film credits: The Book Of Numbers, Sprung, The Nutty Professor, The Klumps, Cordially Invited, and Kinky.
Freda has recorded as many as 23 albums and CDS.
What really brought Freda into the spot light was when she hooked up with the Great Motown producers Holland, Dozier, and Holland who then had formed their own record label lnvictus Records. Freda had a huge hit Band Of Gold that went gold, followed by Bring The Boys Home, a second gold record. Freda has been nominated for a Grammy, three times. Once for Band OF Gold, and twice for the album Contact.
Freda continues to perform in theatres and night clubs both in the U.S. and in England. Her last CD was a jazz CD on the Mack Avenue label. Freda performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival with Quincy Jones celebrating his 75th birthday in 2008. That same year she performed on American Idol along with two other legends, Thelma Houston, and K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Her song Band Of Gold was voted by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top 500 songs of all time.