The multi-talented Freda Payne is best known for her singing career, yet she has also performed in musicals and acted in movies over the years, and briefly was the host of her own TV talk show. Born Freda Charcilia Payne on September 19, 1942, in Detroit, MI, Payne developed an appreciation of music at an early age (due to such sultry jazz singers as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Billie Holiday). Payne's own musical career blossomed soon after, as she began early singing radio commercial jingles, which brought the young vocalist to the attention of several music-biz heavyweights. Berry Gordy, Jr. attempted to sign Payne to his then-burgeoning record company, Motown, while Duke Ellington employed Payne as the featured singer with his renowned orchestra for two nights in Pittsburgh, resulting in Ellington offering the teenager a ten-year contract. But in both cases, Payne's mother turned them down.