By Darlene Donloe
Freda Payne took the stage and wowed a packed and celebrity-peppered crowd that gathered for her joint CD release party and birthday celebration Friday night at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood.
The room was filled with well wishers, family and friends that included her sister, Scherrie Payne, James Pickens (Grey’s Anatomy), actresses Beverly Todd, Marla Gibbs and Angela Gibbs, Motown execs Iris Gordy and Karla Gordy-Bristol and her self-professed first boyfriend Quincy Jones, who went on stage to wax nostalgic of Payne’s notable talents.
“She’s always been a good singer and she’s always been beautiful,” said Jones.
Freda Payne and Quincy Jones
Still a stunner with flawless skin and envious curves, Payne’s nearly two-hour set was not only impressive, it proved she’s a skilled jazz and torch singer.
The balance of her set was filled with songs from her latest CD, Come Back To Me Love (her first for Mack Avenue’s Artistry Music imprint). The CD, featuring 14 songs, marks a return to the big band and strings-laden classics from her mid-`60s beginnings with Impulse! and a return to her hometown of Detroit, which Payne affectionately called, “the big D”.
The appreciative crowd, which broke out into a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday, came to not only support the songstress, but to hear what new musical offerings she had up her sleeve. A true veteran who lights up the stage, Payne, dressed in a long, brown sparkly gown, didn’t disappoint. Accompanied by a six-piece band that included Grammy winning jazz pianist Bill Cunliffe, Payne opened with the ditty, You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To. She also sang Haven’t We Met, Whatever Happened To Me, Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry, The Island, I Should Have Told Him, Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most, I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water, Lately, You Don’t Know, Midnight Sun, Save Your Love For Me and Come Back To Me Love – all from her current CD. The album features six selections penned by Gretchen Valade and Tom Robinson of Mack Avenue Records, as well as eight selections of golden favorites. In addition, during the concert, she also let loose a short version of Sweet Georgia Brown.
But the crowd was waiting with bated breath for her to sing her signature song, her most successful record, the Top 5 1970 hit, Band of Gold which, ironically, garnered her a gold record. The crowd clapped, swayed and sang along as if the song was an old friend.