Freda Payne

Freda Charcelia Payne (born September 19, 1945) is an American singer and actress best known for her million selling, 1970 hit single, "Band of Gold". She has also performed in musicals and acted in movies over the years, and briefly was the host of her own TV talk show.[1] Freda is the older sister of former Supremes member, Scherrie Payne.


Early life and career

Payne was born in Detroit, Michigan[2] and grew up listening to different jazz singers, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.[1] As a teenager, she attended the Detroit Institute of Musical Arts; she soon began singing radio commercial jingles, and took part in (and won many of) local TV and radio talent shows.[1]

In 1963, she moved to New York and worked with many different entertainers, including Quincy Jones, Pearl Bailey, and Bill Cosby.[1] The next year, her debut album, a jazz recording entitled After the Lights Go Down Low and Much More!!!, was released on the Impulse! label.[1] (This album was re-issued on CD in Japan in early 2002, and again in the United States in 2005.) Three years later, she released her second album (another jazz effort) How Do You Say I Don't Love You Anymore, for MGM Records.[1] She also made occasional guest appearances on different television shows including The Merv Griffin Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.[1]

She even added theatrical credits to her repertoire; she understudied Leslie Uggams for the Broadway show Hallelujah Baby in 1967,[3] and appeared with the Equity Theatre in a production of Lost in the Stars. Although she was doing well at supporting herself in the business, none of these things helped her break into stardom.

In 1969, her old friends back home in Detroit, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Edward Holland, Jr., persuaded her to sign with their newly-formed record label Invictus.[1] During that same year, her first Invictus single, "Unhooked Generation" (a minor R&B hit), was released.[4] Shortly thereafter, Eddie Holland offered her a song entitled "Band of Gold", which he along with Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier co-wrote (under the pen name Edythe Wayne) with Ronald Dunbar.[4] In early 1970, the song became an instant pop smash reaching #3 in the US and #1 in the UK; it also gave Payne her first gold record.[1][3] Global sales were estimated at two million.[3] An album of the same name proved to be fairly successful as well.[1] Other Invictus singles included "Deeper and Deeper", "You Brought the Joy", and the Vietnam War protest song "Bring the Boys Home" (U.S. Billboard Hot 100 #12, 1971; her second gold record.[3][4] Her other Invictus albums were Contact (1971), The Best of Freda Payne (1972, a compilation which included four new, unissued songs), and her last Invictus album Reaching Out (1973).[1]

In 1973 she left Invictus and recorded albums for ABC/Dunhill and Capitol, but she never found the commercial success that she had enjoyed with Invictus.[1] She recorded a duet "I Wanna See You Soon" with Capitol stablemates Tavares, which was a radio airplay hit in the UK in 1977.

She released three disco albums for Capitol from 1977 to 1979, "Stares And Whispers", "Supernatural high" and "Hot". The first one features the sizable disco hit "Love magnet" produced by Frank Wilson (1977).

In 1981, she briefly hosted her own talk show Today's Black Woman, and also found work acting in different movies, Broadway, and other theatre productions throughout the 1980s.[1] 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 old 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 1990s she released three albums for Dove Music: Freda Payne Sings the (Unauthorized) I Hate Barney Songbook: A Parody (1995, a comedy album), An Evening With Freda Payne: Live in Concert which featured her younger sister Scherrie Payne on background vocals, and her first (and only) Christmas album Christmas With Freda and Friends, which featured a duet between Freda and Scherrie (both 1996).[1] She also continued her acting career appearing in the films, Private Obsession (1995), Ragdoll (1999), Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000), and Fire & Ice (made-for-TV, 2001).[1]

In early 2001, Payne released a new album entitled Come See About Me for the Volt Records label (the title track is a remake of The Supremes' hit).[1]

In early 2003, she performed in a show called Love & Payne, with Darlene Love at Feinstein's at the Regency in New York, 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 compilation albums 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), and The Best of Freda Payne: Ten Best Series (2002).[1]

Payne was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 28, 2005.[2]

On April 22, 2009 Freda appeared on American Idol and sang Band of Gold.

In February 2010, Freda joined Kanye West, Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Hudson, Barbra Streisand and many more on We Are The World for Haiti Relief.

Personal life

Freda was formerly married to singer Gregory Abbott in 1976, and had a son, Gregory Abbott, Jr. (born 1978).[5]

She also had a relationship with Edmund Sylvers (lead singer of The Sylvers singing group) although she was fifteen years his senior, and Edmund had written and produced her 1982 single 'In Motion'.[6]


In 1974, she made the cover of Jet after she was made a Dame of Malta by the Knights of Malta.[7]


Year Single Chart positions[8]
1962 "(Desafinado) Slightly Out of Tune"
1963 "Pretty Baby"
"It's Time"
1966 "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
1969 "The Unhooked Generation" 43
1970 "Band of Gold" 3 20 1
"Deeper & Deeper" 24 9 33
1971 "Cherish What Is Dear to You (While It's Near To You)" 44 11 46
"Bring the Boys Home" 12 3
"You Brought the Joy" 52 21
1972 "The Road We Didn't Take" 100
"Through the Memory of My Mind"
1973 "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right" 75
"For No Reason"
1974 "It's Yours to Have" 81
1975 "I Get Carried Away"
1976 "I Get High (On Your Memory)"
1977 "Bring Back the Joy"
"Love Magnet" 85 18
1978 "Feed Me Your Love"
"Happy Days Are Here Again/Happy Music (Dance the Night Away)"
1979 "I'll Do Anything for You"
"Red Hot"
"Can't Wait"
1982 "In Motion" 63
"—" denotes the single failed to chart






As an actress

  • 1973: Book of Numbers[11]
  • 1997: Sprung[11]
  • 1999: Ragdoll[11]
  • 2000: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps[11]
  • 2001: Deadly Rhapsody[11]
  • 2007: Cordially Invited[11]

See also