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FREDA PAYNE SEPTEMBER 1977 INTERVIEW
FREDA PAYNE: THE COMPLEAT FREDA PAYNE
The lady has a happy marriage, a baby on the way, and a new record deal. With these things has come an inner confidence in herself which she feels is reflected in her work.

"I GUESS I'm looking at my career differently now. These days, you have to study more, because it's tougher than it's ever been.

"There are more records, more companies and the competition is really keen. It keeps you on your toes and stops you from becoming lazy!"

So speaks the lovely Freda Payne who now boasts several new additions to her life: a new recording deal with Capitol Records, a husband and a baby on the way!

The last time we spoke with the lady was early last year when she was enjoying some success from her second album with ABC, entitled "Out Of Payne Comes Pleasure". On her relationship with the company, Freda says: "It was a business situation that prevented us from continuing our relationship together. I think we would have both liked to continue but I have to say that, in all honesty, after two years and two albums with the company, I began to feel that we hadn't been getting the kind of promotion we needed.

"It's like some companies just let the ball roll and others take the ball and run with it. I felt that ABC just let it roll and hoped for the best."

When her contract was up, Freda started 'shopping around'. "I had a little hesitation about signing with Capitol for a couple of reasons. I had dealt with them through Invictus before — they distributed the label — and that whole thing had left me with a bad taste in my mouth. But checking into it further, I always found that Capitol itself had been most co-operative with me.

"Then, of course, there was the fact that the company does have a rising star in Natalie Cole. But I looked at it like this: the company does not have a big roster and through the industry grapevine I'd heard that their promotion people were really good. So I signed!"

Freda's initial sessions were produced by Tony Camillo, who, she informed us, did some of the orchestral arrangements on her "Band Of Gold" sessions for Invictus. "Tony was fine to work with and we cut about five tunes all together."

But perhaps the most significant thing about the sessions was that, for the first time, two of the songs cut were co-written by Freda with her husband, Gregory Abbott.

"Yes, I'm proud of myself because I'd never written anything before! I had to sit down and concentrate and I found that it was fairly easy for me to get the basic hook for a song. Gregory came up with the lyrics based around my titles — 'Bring Back The Joy' and 'Baby, You've Got What It Takes'.

"I just couldn't get into writing the verses! But then, he deals with words all the time because he's a professor of English Literature! So it was no problem for him. After studying, you find that the basis of a good song involves trying to put potent thoughts into music in the simplest possible way."

Certainly, this new aspect of Freda's creativity opens up new doors for her.

"No, I don't necessarily see myself as another Stevie Wonder, in terms of writing!" she laughs. "But I will write as it becomes necessary rather than just for the sake of doing it. We'll be doing some more sessions in the next couple of months to round off an album and I'm sure I will have some more songs in there that I've written with Gregory."

Meanwhile, working on material she's already cut, Freda says that her newest single is her own "Bring Back The Joy".

"I was very happy with the way the tune came out and everyone seems to dig it. In fact, we thought it should have been the first single, before 'I Get High (On Your Memory)'. But I feel confident about the new record."

Yet another reason for Freda to feel confident is her current duet with Tavares, recorded whilst her stablemates were in the studios earlier in the year completing their "Love Storm" album.

"Larkin Arnold suggested it as something different for us to do and I figured why not? After all, it seemed to work when Dionne Warwick teamed up with The Spinners, right? I worked with Freddie Perren on it and I must say he was very easy to work with."

The duet, entitled "I Want To See You Real Soon" could well result in there being three records on the chart simultaneously, with Tavares' "Who-Dun-It" just finishing off its chart run, Freda's new single just about to take off and the duet out now.

"I don't mind at all! Having two records on the chart would be just fine by me — it's been so long since I had a really big record, you know!"

Freda feels that another chart record would give her the opportunity to shift the emphasis in her career from supper-club and cabaret work to concerts.

"Yes, that's an area that I really want to get into because most people are into that these days. Sure, I've survived alright doing the clubs but we all need a change. There is so much more I could do on a stage too.

"I don't think I'd necessarily go for a big production kind of thing because I find that all the gimmicks people are using — coming up from the floor, the distractions. Why go for overproduction, too, when it's so expensive? I wonder too whether the public really appreciates all that activity on a stage anyway."

In addition to recording and performing, Freda has already been involved in movies with "Book of Numbers" a few years back.

"We're talking right now about possibly doing a movie known as 'The Ice Man', I don't know if we'll do it or not yet and I don't even know what the story is about."

Freda says that she's also interested in possibly doing a Broadway show "if the right vehicle comes up. No, I don't mind doing the same thing every night but for right now, such a project would be out of the question because of what's about to happen!"

And what's about to happen is that Ms. Payne is about to become a mother!

"It's going to be a Libra baby and I'm looking forward to the event," she smiles. “No, I don't think it will really affect the course of my career but it will definitely make me a fuller person and give me that extra inner confidence that's very necessary for your artistry. It brings a greater maturity, having a baby."

Freda's marriage earlier in the year was also something of a surprise event for those who know her.

"Well, I don't think it affected my image too much — not these days! I was kinda reluctant to actually get married for a long time but no one had to twist my arm to do it! You see, basically, I'm a home kind of person. I've never been one to real go out, hang out and socialize a great deal in recent times so I might as well be settled at home with somebody rather than just be there by myself!

"Plus I didn't want to continue being alone!"

Amazingly, Freda reveals that she even had a problem sometimes when she did go out, finding an escort! "It was just that you want to be with someone you dig, someone special and I got tired of just going with people to functions and parties because there was no one special in my life. But it's different now!"

Freda feels very positive about her future. She indicates that the day may well come when she becomes even more involved in her recording career.

"I guess I'm more into it than ever before and that's basically because over the years, I left it to other people. When I was with Holland-Dozier-Holland, I knew they were producers and it was their job. But nowadays, I'm more aware of what should be happening in the studio when I record, I guess I've learned from experience.

So many times I've talked about what I thought should have happened, what we could have done. Now I'm beginning to get that confidence to do it myself."

Which will certainly put Freda quite a way ahead of a lot of her female contemporaries. With her writing skills being polished and the prospect of future producing too, Freda Payne looks set to being an important creative force.

About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.
  
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