Freda Payne in A Tribute to the Great Ladies of Jazz: Ella, Lena & Sarah at Yoshi's
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The last date listed for Freda Payne: A Tribute to the Great Ladies of Jazz: Ella, Lena & Sarah was Saturday May 14, 2011 / 8:00pm.
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Talented teens from around the Bay Area unite at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater to … More
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Quotes & Highlights
“Payne bears a remarkable resemblance to the legendary singer’s sound, and has mastered the wordless scatting style developed by Ella.” —Variety
“Payne makes Ella worth seeing and hearing. Her scatting is a wonder.” —Star-Ledger
Learn more about Freda at her website.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Freda grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, which inspired her growing interest in music. While still in school, she began her musical career by singing radio commercial jingles. It was then that her polished voice first caught the attention of music executives and other artists. She was wooed with offers of contracts from the likes of Berry Gordy and Duke Ellington, but her mother wanted her to finish school first.
After she did, the legendary Pearl Bailey gave Freda her first professional job and this paved the way for her to share the stage with other legends such as Lionel Hampton, Sammy Davis Jr., Billy Eckstine, Quincy Jones, Bill Cosby and many others. Freda toured with Quincy Jones during his big band era, performing at the world famous Apollo in New York and the Regal in Chicago, among others, and soon after, recorded her first album When The Lights Go Down for Impulse Records.
Then in 1969, some of her hometown friends, brothers Brian & Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier, persuaded Freda to sign with their newly formed label, Invictus. These distinguished songwriters were responsible for putting Motown music firmly on the map by writing and producing million sellers for acts such as 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. Freda went on to score with her own million-selling singles, “Band Of Gold” and “Bring The Boys Home.”
During this time, a busy Freda also added theatrical credits to her resume. She understudied Leslie Uggams for the Tony Award winning, Broadway show Hallelujah Baby in 1967 and appeared with the Equity Theatre in a production of Lost in the Stars. Freda’s ever expanding repertoire included roles in the award-winning musical, Blues in the Night, Jelly’s Last Jam, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Sophisticated Ladies.
In the 80s, Freda concentrated on acting and television, briefly hosting her own talk show, but never entirely losing touch with her music. She recorded a single in 1982 entitled “In Motion” and a remake of “Band of Gold”with Belinda Carlisle in 1986. The new millennium brought a new album of jazz, pop and R&B called _Come See About Me _and rave reviews for her show, “Love & Payne,” which featured Freda and Darlene Love at Feinstein’s at the Regency in New York City, and at the Cinegrill in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles.
For the past two years, Freda’s tribute to Ella Fitzgerald has enjoyed sold out performances at the Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles, the Iridium and Feinstein’s in NYC, the Spokane Jazz Festival and on tour in performing arts centers, nationally and overseas. Her performance in the 2007 revival of_ Blues in the Night _at the Post Street Theatre in San Francisco garnered full houses and rave reviews during its extended run.
Most recently, Freda was invited to perform at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, during its 75th Anniversary Celebration honoring Quincy Jones, and also appeared on TV’s American Idol.