Freda Payne pays tribute to legendary performer

Vocalist and actress Freda Payne performed at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center Friday as a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.

The performance served as a remembrance for Fitzgerald’s achievements and legacy.

Fitzgerald would have been 100 years old in 2017. The performance was part of Payne’s “Tribute to Ella” tour and is a marker for Fitzgerald’s centennial anniversary.

The performance allowed the audience to go on a journey with Payne and explore Fitzgerald’s career through song. Payne performed “It Don’t Mean a Thing” and “Sweet Georgia Brown,” among many other hits. The audience also heard Freda Payne’s hits such as “Band of Gold” and “Bring the Boys Home.”

“I think it’s so nice to have something dedicated to music and culture in Huntington,” said Zoeie Seaman, Marshall junior political science and history double major. “Ella Fitzgerald was an amazing jazz musician and this tribute is a wonderful way to commemorate that.”

“What inspired me was that I discovered I had a talent, a gift of a vocal ability,” Payne said.

Payne said people would come up to her and tell her she should consider being a professional because she sang well.

“I took that as a sign that this is the direction I should go in, in terms of theatrical arts,” Payne said.

Payne discussed obstacles she has faced in the music industry as a woman of color.

“Being accepted in the music industry — you have fans and you don’t have fans,” Payne said. “There are people who applaud you and love you. And there are people who feel like you’re not so hot, and they want to push someone else.”

Payne said Hollywood is very youth-oriented and that awards are commonly given to young, white artists and actors.

“Being on that stage and performing and doing my thing, whether it is in a singing role primarily or an acting role, I prefer singing to acting, but I like to do them both,” Payne said.

Payne discussed how young artists can create a brand for themselves through the internet and the media. She advised young artists to enter talent contests and be active on social media to be discovered.

Payne said through her experience, she has seen people from many different countries. From interacting with these diverse people, she said she has learned that everyone loves the same, and everyone hates the same. She said her experience has helped her learn about the world around her and about tolerance overall.

Alexia Lilly can be contacted at [email protected]