Born on September 19, 1945 in Detroit, Freda was a student at the Institute of Musical Arts and, before moving to New York in 1963, began her career by warbling commercial jingles on Detroit radio. In NY she would ultimately work with such luminaries as Pearl Bailey, Quincy Jones, Lionel Hampton. Duke Ellington, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Billy Eckstine, so you know this was a lady who learned her craft from the masters.
A record deal with Impulse resulted in an opportunity to indulge in her first love, Jazz, and she cut the album After The Lights Go Down Low And Much More, followed three years later by another such LP for MGM, How Do You Say I Don't Love You Anymore?. While well-received among jazz critics, they were not huge commercial successes, and so in 1969 she accepted an invitation from the Detroit songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland to join their new Invictus label.
Her initial release there, The Unhooked Generation, did not exactly shake up the industry, reaching a lowly # 43 on the R&B charts early in 1969 b/w The Easiest Way To Fall. Then she was offered a tune that spoke of a marriage which failed on the day of the wedding itself, and after first expressing reluctance to sing such a song, she gave in. Band Of Gold went on to become her best single ever, going to # 3 Billboard Pop Hot 100 and # 20 R&B in May 1970.
The flipside was the same song that backed her first release, and for her next single, Deeper And Deeper [# 9 R&B/# 24 Hot 100 in October] the B-side was The Unhooked Generation, which indicates that, perhaps, she hadn't spent a lot of time in the studio, or maybe some of the other cuts available were not to the liking of the studio bosses. That's evident from her first LP release for Invictus, Band Of Gold, which contained some previously unreleased material. Why weren't these the B-sides?
In any event, in 1971 she cut the LP Contact and from that came the hit single Cherish What Is Dear To You (While It's Near To You) which peaked at # 11 R&B/# 44 Hot 100 in March b/w The World Don't Owe You A Thing. Another side from that LP, the Vietnam protest song Bring The Boys Home, went all the way to # 3 R&B and # 12 Hot 100 during the summer b/w I Shall Not Be Moved. She then closed out 1971 and began 1972 with two more tracks from the LP, You Brought The Joy [# 21 R&B/# 52 Hot 100 in November 1971] b/w Suddenly It's Yesterday, and The Road We Didn't Take [# 100 Hot 100 in January 1972] b/w I'm Not Getting Any Better. Neither of the last two flipsides are in this collection.
After that it was tough sledding. The 1972 LP The Best Of Freda Payne contained some new material, and in 1973 she cut the album Reaching Out which received mixed reviews. Never happy with the financial rewards coming her way from Invictus, her last single there was, perhaps appropriately, Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right which struggled to # 75 on the R&B charts in September b/w We've Gotta Find A Way Back To Love.
A move to Dunhill/ABC did not improve her chart performances, with the only single success there being It's Yours To Have which topped out at # 81 R&B in December 1974. Nor did things get any better after switching to Capitol with Love Magnet levelling off at # 85 R&B in late 1977. She did cut several albums in this period, though, and these are much sought after by collectors.
In 1981 she landed a job as hostess of the TV talk-show Today's Black Woman, followed by work on Broadway and in films, and in November 1982 returned to the singles charts for the last time when In Motion went to # 63 R&B for the Sutra label. But she continues to perform, cutting a number of successful albums [the comedy compilation I Hate Barney in 1995, and An Evening With Freda Payne: Live and Christmas With Freda And Friends in 1996, all for Dove Music, and in 2000 Come See About Me for Volt]. She also appeared with Darlene Love at Feinstein's in New York's Regency Hotel early in 2003, followed by a stint at the Cinegrill in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
This is, easily, the best Freda Payne compilation of her hits and comes most highly recommended.