There are singers...and then there are great singers, the best singers...like soul, R&B legend Freda Payne. This lady is not only a sensational vocalist but on top of that, intelligent, warm and beautiful. Her "Band of Gold" was a # 1 Bestseller and gold record back in 1970, but what many do not realize is that Freda Payne can scat and sing Ella...Fitzgerald, that is, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington...and Lena Horne. Payne's a great pop vocalist, yes, but it is in these areas of jazz and the unforgettable standards of the Great American Songbook where she truly excels. In her hour, forty-five minute set at the Catalina Jazz Club on Sunday evening July 17, she payed a glowing tribute to Ella, Sarah and Lena, showing the way Freda is now, wisely leaving her own hit tunes as encores and memories of what she used to be.
Backed by three virtuoso musicians: Bill Cunliffe on piano, Jake Reed on drums and Chris Colongilo on bass, Payne's highlights included: a rarely heard scat opening of "Lost in Love", a fabulous medley to salute her idol Lena Horne : "Love", "Stormy Weather" and "The Lady Is a Tramp", Billy Strayhorn's irresistible "Lush Life", Ella's hits: "Sweet Georgia Brown", "Mr. Paganini", "Honey Suckle Rose", "Mack the Knife", a too sexy for her dress rendition of Cole Porter's "Too Darn Hot" - proving what a scintillating hot mama she still is -, gorgeous ballads: "Someone To Watch Over Me", "Spring Can Really Hang You Up", "Do You Still Dream About Me?", a swinging "Duke's Place" in honor of Duke Ellington and a dynamite "St. Louis Blues" in honor of Dinah Washington. At the end she tributed Motown and Holland.Dozier.Holland with "How Sweet It Is", "Bring the Boys Home" and "Band of Gold". She also added a surprise, unrehearsed "Miss Otis Regrets" and a few bars of her hit "Cherish".
What a spectacular evening of song to cap off carmageddon, or as Payne called it "Car heaven!"! Not only was the show fantastic, but to make it even more memorable Freda's friend, legendary blues singer Linda Hopkins was in the audience and shouted from her seat "Freda, you are singing your heart out! I love you.", to which Payne humbly replied, "It's the only thing I know how to do. I love you too." Freda Payne is one of a dying breed of sophisticated artists who has the chops to perform any kind of music in the best way possible. Don't miss her as she tours worldwide! She's still HOT! It is my fervent prayer that she record this loving tribute to these elegant ladies of song!
Two singles due out soon:
"Free Me From My Freedom" and in the UK a duet with Sir Cliff Richard on his forthcoming album of duets:
"Saving a Life" performed on the BBC's Loose Women that may be viewed on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUdzpz_yZao.
For all things Freda, visit: www.fredapayne.com.