Freda Payne, “Band of Gold” singer from Detroit, returns to her jazz roots and recounts her memorable love life

Karu F. Daniels

Freda Payne is more than it looks.

Although she gained international fame with the 1970 hit “Band of Gold”, the singer made new waves in the jazz genre, returning to her 1960s roots.

The Detroit-born diva recently released the album “Let There Be Love”, featuring collaborations with R&B ballader Kenny Lattimore, jazz singer Kurt Elling, pop singer Johnny Mathis and vocal powerhouse Dee Dee Bridgewater.

“It’s a relief because… people expected me to be a soul singer and booked me for R&B shows and tours, but now I can be happy because now I can sing the genre. music that I feel most comfortable with, ”he said. former singer and actress told the Daily News. “I can do everything.”

A close examination of her catalog will confirm this: she has performed classic pop standards such as “‘Round Midnight” and “I Cried for You” in 1964 as well as daring interpretations of the blues classics “See See Rider” and ” Nobody Wants “. You When You’re Down and Out “in 1971. Touching versions of Barbra Streisand’s timeless classic” The Way We Were “and” A Song for You “by Leon Russell, as well as songs popularized by The Beatles, are scattered around. in her musical work Nina Simone and the Just Brothers.

Accompanied by Frank Owens and a trio of three musicians, the Grammy-nominated songwriter performed clips from the album, and more, for the first time at the Birdland Jazz Club in New York on November 22, a place she loved a lot during her years in New York in the 1960s.

“I used to go to old Birdland when it was on Broadway in the 1950s,” she recalls. “I used to go there often. I never played this one.

Payne, who began her professional singing career in large orchestras and performing with Duke Ellington, knows that even with tunes composed by people like the Gershwins, Cole Porter and songs popularized by Nat King Cole and Billie Holliday at her active, she cannot leave the stage without singing “Band of Gold”.

“I do,” she laughed when asked if she was ever tired of singing the Holland-Dozier-Holland classic.

“But you know what? I’m so grateful that this song really helped me get this far,” she added of her signature song. “Because no matter what I do … people know who I am because of “Band of Gold”.

In 2004, the song was ranked No. 391 among Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Jim Caruso, who hosts Birdland’s “Cast Party” and produces the “Broadway at Birdland” series, is a longtime fan of the singer, who has trod the stages of the Great White Way in productions featuring the greats. from showbiz Leslie Uggams (1967’s “Hallelujah, Baby!”) and Sammy Davis Jr. (1974, “Sammy”).

“I challenge anyone to sit still while listening to ‘Band of Gold’ by Freda Payne. His iconic voice and that magical song are etched in our hearts and minds and are now part of musical history, ”Caruso told The News.

Payne recently performed the chart-topping hit – covered in the 1980s by crossdressing disco icon Sylvester, pop stars Belinda Carlisle and Bonnie Tyler, and in the mid-2000s by “American Idol” star Kimberley Locke ” – at Whoopi Goldberg’s 66th birthday party on “The View”.

On November 2, Payne released a juicy memoir – titled “Band of Gold” – detailing his life story, which leaves very little to the imagination when it comes to old romances with producer Quincy Jones, the author. – Motown songwriter Eddie Holland, US Senator John Tunney and chart-topping singers Edmund Sylvers and Gregory Abbott.

The Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Famer does not regret having revealed so much; in some relationships (notably with Jones and Tunney), she played the role of the other woman in the extramarital affairs. She said she didn’t feel like a household breaker.

Of her motivation to offer so many intimate details of her life at such a late age, Payne said she couldn’t think of a better time than now.

“Because I was 79, okay? She impassive. “And I realized that a lot of my peers, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Candi Staton, Bettye LaVette and Darlene Love, you name them, I can go on and on, wrote their memoirs. And I said, ‘Wait a minute, all these friends of mine and people I know wrote their memoirs, and I didn’t write mine?’ “

“And I said, ‘I’d better hurry up and write this damn book before my memory fades.'”

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