The Incomparable Freda Payne To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award At Luxury Gala Oscars
LOS ANGELES — When Freda Payne hit the road as a teenager little did she know that it would be the only occupation she would ever take part in. In 1962 she signed her first record deal and by 1970, she had the #1 album in the UK, “Band of Gold.” Her music took her across the world and slowing down is not an option, as she is set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award on March 12th. For more information on this prestigious event visit Luxury Gala 2023 Tickets, Sun, Mar 12, 2023 at 2:30 PM | Eventbrite. Payne also received an award for “Leading Actress in a Musical,” for her role as Ella Fitzgerald in the theatrical play, “First Lady of Song.” Although her talents supersede her amazing voice, getting back to her jazz roots is something Ms. Payne has been persistent about doing. In 2022 she released a single with Mitchell Coleman Jr. titled, “Do You Still Dream About Me.”
Ms. Payne shares her youthful secrets, career mentors, and much more with Zenger News.
Zenger: You have discovered the fountain of youth. What are your keys to looking tremendous?
Payne: The keys are being active, participating in some type of exercise program, and make sure you’re taking extra supplements. As we age, there are certain things that our body needs that we don’t naturally produce any longer. I would also suggest that you go to a health doctor. Someone that specializes in quantum health and someone who can determine what your body needs to keep you youthful and healthy. Some people depend on taking a multi-vitamin or mineral pill, a one fits all, but sometimes that’s not the case. Sometimes you have to zero in on your particular needs.
Zenger: You’re also very active with music and performing. Is that stage still therapeutic to you?
Payne: Oh yeah! When I’m on the stage, that’s me. That’s when I come alive. That’s what I do. That’s what I did my entire life to earn a living. I graduated from Central High in Detroit when I was 16 and by the time I turned 17, I was booking jobs to perform. My first job on the road was with Pearl Bailey right after my 17th birthday. And then it kept going. I never had the need to get a regular 9-5 job. Although, when I think back on it, there were times where I should have (laughing). But I was blessed to have my parents support me and send me money when I was in need.
Zenger: You have such a versatile voice to be able to perform under so many different musical genres. You have been tapping back into the jazz side of things of late, any genre you prefer more than others these days?
Payne: You just said it, for a long time now I’ve preferred jazz. That’s where I excel. Most people know me from really big hit records I had in the early 70’s, “Band of Gold,” and “Bring the Boys Home.” Those were Gold Records for me. But even before that, I was always a Cabaret Jazz singer. My very first album on a major label… my first record deal was with ABC Paramount back in 1962, a year later, they put me on their jazz label, which was Impulse. We’re talking people like, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, all the jazz greats that you can think of. I only did one album on Impulse, and it was called, “After the Lights Go Down Low and Much More.” My first album was all jazz. One side was big band, and one side was all trio.
After that, I went to Europe in 1965, Stockholm, Sweden for 3 months, and I recorded an album there called, “Freda Payne in Stockholm.” That was middle of the road because I did a little R&B and jazz too. I did one album on the MGM label in 1966. That’s when I was being managed by Clarence Avant. He got me that record deal and that was, “How Do I Say I Don’t Love You Anymore.” That was a combination of middle of the road and pop. My next deal was with Invictus Records, Brian and Edward Holland, and Lamont Dozier. They are the ones that gave me, “Band of Gold,” “Bring the Boys Home,” and the rest is history.
Zenger: A woman from Detroit, Michigan produces a number one selling album in the United Kingdom with, “Band of Gold,” how life changing was that for you?
Payne: It was kind of overwhelming. I knew the record had become a hit in the states. I was doing a TV special in Toronto, Canada with Kenny Rogers. The production office came to my dressing room, and they said, “Miss Payne you have a call from the UK, The BBC.” And I said, “What?” I got on the phone and the guy said, “We just want you to know that your record, “Band of Gold” is a big hit in the UK. It’s #1 on the charts right now.” It stayed at #1 for six weeks straight. It became more popular in the UK than it was here. It felt fantastic.
Zenger: Is your longevity in music a direct reflection of how versatile you are as an artist?
Payne: Definitely! My versatility is my longevity. When I was being booked for shows, they thought they were booking this soul singer. I said, “I’m not Aretha Franklin. I wish I was, but I’m not.” I had to adjust my repertoire geared towards satisfying my audience. I would always slip in a song or two that suggested I was more than that.
Zenger: You mentioned your first deal being in 1962. We are currently in the 2020’s and you’re going on, “American Idol,” and “The View.” How much does it mean to you to still be so relevant?
Payne: I just have to thank my God. He anointed me and sometimes I’ll get an award for something, and I don’t think I’m worthy. I’m thinking, “Why me?” I guess I’m so busy working on my life and enjoying my life, I’m not looking for aggrandizement. I’m not looking for a pat on the back but when I get that pat on the back, it validates me. It makes me feel good. Someone approached me the other day about giving me a Lifetime Achievement Award based on my accomplishments. It was going to be a plague and it came with a bunch of stipulations and I would’ve had to pay a certain amount of money. I said, “Thank you but no thank you.” Percy, if you walked around my house, I got awards all over the place. I wouldn’t know where to put a plaque anyways because I don’t have any room. On March 12th at the Gala Oscar Evening, I’m getting another award.
Zenger: I’m sure each individual award has its own special meaning. On March 12th, you will be receiving an award at the Luxury Gala Oscars. What does that particular award signify for you?
Payne: Oh wow! It signifies the fact that I was thought of and chosen to be the person they wanted to give this “Lifetime Achievement Award” to. I feel like it’s a validation from my peers in the highest way. I am humbled and I am grateful. I say, thank you very much.
Zenger: Before I let you go, I have to put you on the spot. So many new artists embrace you and you share a ton of knowledge with them. What person in music would you say you learned the most from?
Payne: Oh! That’s a hard one. Wow! Who was my mentor. I’ve had many. There was a guy way back in the 60’s, his name was Larry Steele. He had a show that he was the entrepreneur/producer of and the emcee of and it was called, “Larry Steele’s Smart Affairs.” He’s no longer with us, but he would have these tours. He would have showgirls, a singer, like myself, a comedian, and he primarily played black supper clubs. In the summertime he played his review in Atlantic City at Club Harlem, which is legendary before the casinos came into play. He always hired me as his singer. This was before Motown. He stressed to me how to be a lady. How to maintain your dignity and decorum.
Zenger: Thank you so much for your time. It has been an honor speaking to you. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Payne: I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I play Ella Fitzgerald theatrically on a stage in a play, “First Lady of Song.” I wear padded garments, Ella’s hairstyle. And speaking of awards, I just won the “Audelco Award,” which is dedicated to black theatre. I won, “Leading Actress In A Musical.”
Edited by Joseph Hammond and Joseph Hammond