Freda Payne may be best known for her pop and R&B hits, and especially for the 1970 smash “Band of Gold,” but she promises she can do more than that as she heads back to her native Detroit to play four days at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe.
“For the last five, six years I’ve been doing more jazz,” says Payne, 68, who now lives in Los Angeles. “I’ve been doing a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, so that took me back to my roots of when I lived in Detroit as a teenager, when I used to sing mostly standards and jazz and show tune type of material.
“It’s part of my DNA. It’s basically how I was raised from the time I was five or six years old. It was part of my musical education. I didn’t start singing the other stuff until later in the 60s, really.”
Payne continues to release music — most recently as song at a time on iTunes. She also duets with British star Cliff Richards on his next album, and while in Detroit will be recording “When I Need to Smile,” the title song for an upcoming documentary about Carharrt heiress Gretchen Valade, who owns the Dirty Dog and Mack Avenue Records and is the benefactor for the Detroit Jazz Festival.
Meanwhile, this year marks the 40th anniversary of Payne’s hit “Bring the Boys Home,” which, with continuing military conflicts overseas, Payne feels “resonates more today than it did in 1971.”
“When I made it I thought it was just keeping with what was going on,” she recalls. “We were at war with Vietnam and American soldiers were being killed. It was an everyday thing you heard about. So I thought that song served an emotional need...and I think that need is still there today, I’m sorry to say.”
Freda Payne performs Wednesday through Saturday, Aug. 17-20, at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, 97 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Farms. Payne performs at 6:30 and 9 p.m. each night. Admission is $10 Wednesday and Thursday, $10 Friday and Saturday. Call 313-882-5299 or visit www.dirtydogjazz.com.
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