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*Freda Payne was born on this date in 1942. She is a Black singer and actress.
From Detroit, Michigan, she is the older sister of Scherrie Payne, the final lead singer in the Motown act The Supremes. Freda Charcilia Payne grew up listening to different jazz singers, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, which helped her develop a musical taste. As a teenager, she attended the Institute of Musical Arts; she soon began singing commercial radio jingles and won many local TV and radio talent shows.
Her voice caught the attention of Berry Gordy and Duke Ellington. However, her mother wanted her to finish school first. In 1963, she moved to New York City and worked with Quincy Jones, Pearl Bailey, Bill Cosby, and others. Her debut album, After the Lights Go Down Low and Much More!!!, was released that same year. Three years later, she released How Do You Say I Don't Love You Anymore.
She also occasionally appeared on the "Merv Griffin" and "Johnny Carson" shows. She added theatrical credits to her repertoire; as an understudy with Leslie Uggams for the Broadway show Hallelujah Baby in 1967, she appeared with the Equity Theatre in a production of Lost in the Stars. In 1969, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Edward Holland, Jr. persuaded her to sign with them. During that same year, she released "Unhooked Generation."
Shortly thereafter, songwriters Edythe Wayne and Ron Dunbar offered her a song entitled "Band of Gold." Almost immediately, in early 1970, the song became an instant pop smash; it also gave Payne her first gold record. Other singles included "Deeper and Deeper," "You Brought the Joy," and the Vietnam protest song "Bring the Boys Home" (#12, 1971; her second gold record). Her other Invictus albums were Contact (1971), The Best of Freda Payne (1972, a compilation that included four new, unissued songs), and her last Invictus album Reaching Out (1973).
In 1973, dissatisfied with her royalties (which were very low, to begin with), she left Invictus and recorded albums for ABC/Dunhill and Capitol. Still, she never found the commercial success she had with Invictus. Payne was formerly married to singer Gregory Abbott in 1976 and had a son, Gregory Abbott, Jr. (born 1978). In 1981, she briefly hosted her talk show "Today's Black Woman" and also found work acting in different movies, Broadway, and other theatre productions throughout the eighties. She also had a relationship with Edmund Sylvers, who had written and produced her 1982 single 'In Motion.
Although she was concentrating more on acting by that time, she never gave up music; in 1982, she recorded a single entitled "In Motion" for the Sutra label in New York, and in 1986, she recorded a remake of her hit "Band of Gold" with Belinda Carlisle. In 1990, she recorded three songs for Ian Levine's UK Motorcity label: another remake of "Band of Gold," "Memories and Souvenirs," and "Only Minutes Away." In the mid-nineties, she released three albums for Dove Music: I Hate Barney (1995, a comedy album), An Evening With Freda Payne: Live, and her first (and only) Christmas album Christmas With Freda and Friends (both 1996).
She also continued her acting career, appearing in movies like Private Obsession (1995), Ragdoll (1999), The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000), and Fire & Ice (made-for-TV, 2001). In early 2001, she released a new album (of jazz, pop, and R&B molded into one) called Come See About Me for the Volt label (the title track is a remake of the Supremes' hit). In early 2003, she performed a show called "Love & Payne" with Darlene Love at Feinstein's at the Regency in New York City and at the Cinegrill in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, getting excellent reviews.
During the early part of the 21st century, the following compilations of her music were released: Lost in Love (which includes nine of her post-Invictus recordings), Band of Gold: The Best of Freda Payne (both 2000), Unhooked Generation: The Complete Invictus Recordings (2001, the best compilation of her Invictus songs ever made), and The Best of Freda Payne: Ten Best Series (2002, another collection of her Invictus songs).
In 2009, she appeared on American Idol and sang "Band of Gold." In 2010, Payne joined Kanye West, Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Hudson, Barbra Streisand, and many more on We Are The World for Haiti Relief. In 2011 Payne recorded a duet, "Saving A Life," with British pop star Sir Cliff Richard for inclusion on his "Soulicious" album. She also joined Richard on his "Soulicious" tour of the UK in October of the same year.