Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir

pixeltracker

LET THERE BE LOVE and BAND OF GOLD will be on every holiday wish list this season.

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir Shimmery and shiny and looking every bit of the golden goddess of the music industry that she is, Freda Payne stepped up onto the Birdland stage Monday night to spend a heavenly seventy-five minutes celebrating the release of her brand-new cd and her new memoir. The album is an EP titled LET THERE BE LOVE upon which Ms. Payne duets with the likes of Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kenny Lattimore, and Johnny Mathis, while BAND OF GOLD will travel the various roads of Freda's lives musical and personal, and it was with no small amount of excitement that the statuesque beauty spoke freely about the exciting experience of creating these new works of art. When it came time to sing, though, the artistry the Grammy Award nominee brought onto the stage with her wasn't new - it was the classic sound for which the songstress has come to be known, singing the equally classic tunes from the Great American Songbook.

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir Although "Band of Gold" (the song Payne openly says, "changed my life") was a pop tune, Freda has spent most of her musical life singing jazz and r&b, and audience members looking to hear the music one might expect from an artist who hits number one with an iconic pop tune were in for a treat as Ms. Payne brought forth those jazz stylings, complete with some of the silkiest, sexiest, most sanguine scat singing around. Working her way through the compositions of Cole Porter, Frank Loesser, the Gershwins, and the like, Ms. Payne was more than a pleasure to listen to: she was a joy to watch. When not actively engaged in the art of singing, Freda kept the line of dialogue between her and the audience open at all times, discussing everything from her memories dating back to her first-ever roommate to music industry reminiscences to the size of her, shall we say, derriere, and with such charming frankness and natural humor, that it made this writer wish that one of the musical numbers could be swapped out for a reading from the memoir. Freda Payne is a very funny lady... and she's got the moves, too. Although the program had its fair share of ballads, there were ample opportunities for Freda to show off the fact that the music lives within her, to the deepest place of her being. Strutting about the three-quarter stage to share the show with the audience on the sides (a talent not every artist possesses), moving hips, hands, fingers, and feet in time with the music, and allowing the sounds provided by the composers and her crackerjack band to wash over her entire being, Freda Payne pulled off a performance that some musicians half her age might find exhausting. The Lady is a ball of fire with an intensity that comes out in every musical story being told.

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir Whether playing off of Frank Owens' extraordinary piano playing on jazz-arranged numbers like "The Best is Yet To Come" or stunning the audience into absolute silence with a letter-perfect "Fifty Percent", Freda Payne ran the gamut of her skillset, delivering unto an audience with a wide-ranging demographic more than a celebration of her new album: this was a celebration of her resilience. Working ones' way through the years as a woman - and a woman of color - in show business has never been on the list of the top ten easiest choices to make in life, but Ms. Payne did it, and she did it with style, a style that still shows today, whether in the evening's musical highlights "St. Louis Blues" and "(If You Can't Sing It) You'll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini)" or in the smooth, playful way she rolls with real-time surprises, "Somebody SWITCHED the songs... I gotta tell a different story!" Not one wasted moment occurred during Payne's Monday night set, one that finished neatly and tidily with a stellar performance of her most famous recording before she bounded off of the stage and into a throng of friends, awaiting her actual physical presence. It is rare that a club and concert artist makes the choice to end their show when it needs to end, then walks, and that's just what Freda Payne did. There was no fake exit, no coy encore: the Lady gave the crowd what they came for and, then, she was on her way. It was a supremely elegant way to end a smart program of entertainment. Elegant, smart, and entertaining - that would be Freda Payne.

The Freda Payne band was Gregory Jones on bass, Buddy Williams on drums, and Fred Owens Musical Directing and on piano.

Find great shows to see at Birdland HERE.

Get copies of the book BAND OF GOLD and the album LET THERE BE LOVE at the Freda Payne website HERE.

Freda Payne gets a five out of five microphones rating for performing her entire show without the use of a lyric sheet, tablet, or music stand.

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir

BWW Review: Freda Payne Is Every Inch A Diva at Birdland, Celebrating a New Album and Memoir Photos by Stephen Mosher


Related Articles View More Cabaret Stories

Buy at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

From This Author Stephen Mosher