Freda Payne is an American singer and actress who is best known for her 1970 hit single “Band of Gold”. She is also known for her romantic relationship with Richard Roundtree, the legendary actor who played John Shaft in the 1971 film Shaft and its sequels. Here is what we know about her and her relationship with Roundtree:
- Freda Payne was born on September 19, 1942, in Detroit, Michigan. She grew up listening to jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, and began singing professionally at a young age. She moved to New York City in 1963, and worked with many entertainers, including Quincy Jones, Pearl Bailey, and Bill Cosby.
- Freda Payne signed with Invictus Records in 1969, a label founded by her friends Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Edward Holland Jr., who were former Motown producers. Her first single for Invictus was “Unhooked Generation”, a minor R&B hit. Her second single was “Band of Gold”, which became a huge pop smash, reaching #3 in the US and #1 in the UK. It also earned her a gold record.
- Freda Payne continued to record for Invictus until 1973, releasing several albums and singles, such as “Deeper and Deeper”, “You Brought the Joy”, and “Bring the Boys Home”, a Vietnam War protest song. She also branched out into acting, appearing in musicals and films, such as Lost in the Stars, The Book of Numbers, and Ragtime.
- Freda Payne met Richard Roundtree in the late 1970s, when he was already a famous star. He had played John Shaft, the cool and charismatic detective who fought crime in Harlem, in the 1971 film Shaft and its two sequels. He had also starred in other films, such as Earthquake, The Big Score, and An Eye for an Eye.
- Freda Payne and Richard Roundtree dated for a few years, and were often seen together at events and parties. They were considered one of the most glamorous couples in Hollywood at the time. They also collaborated professionally, as Payne sang the theme song for Roundtree’s TV series Shaft in 1973.
- Freda Payne and Richard Roundtree broke up in the early 1980s, but remained friends. They both moved on to other relationships and marriages. Payne married Gregory Abbott, a singer-songwriter, in 1976, but they divorced in 1979. She then dated Edmund Sylvers, a singer from the group The Sylvers, from 1979 to 1983. She had one son with him, named Gregory Abbott Jr.
- Richard Roundtree married Mary Jane Grant, his college sweetheart, in 1963. They had two children together, Nicole and Tayler. They divorced in 1973. He then married Karen M. Ciernia in 1980. They had three children together, Morgan, Kelli, and James. They divorced in 1998. He then married Jessica Merritt in 2010.
- Freda Payne and Richard Roundtree remained in touch over the years, and supported each other through their personal challenges. Roundtree revealed that he was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, and had a double mastectomy. He kept his condition a secret from everyone except his wife and his doctor. He died of pancreatic cancer on October 23, 2023.
- Freda Payne expressed her condolences for Roundtree’s death on X (formerly known as Twitter). She wrote: “I am heartbroken to hear that my dear friend Richard Roundtree has passed away. He was a wonderful man and a brilliant actor. We shared some beautiful memories together. Rest in peace, my love.”
- Freda Payne is now 81 years old, and still active in the music and entertainment industry. She has released several albums over the years, such as Come See About Me (2001), Out of Payne Comes Love (2007), and Come Back to Me Love (2014). She has also appeared in films and TV shows, such as Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000), American Idol (2007), and Ladies of Soul (2014).
- Freda Payne is also an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. She has shared her own struggles with depression and anxiety on various platforms.
Freda Payne is a soulful singer and actress who dated Richard Roundtree, the original Shaft star who died at 81. She was his partner in love and music for a few years, and his friend for more than four decades. She is a remarkable woman who has lived a full and rich life.
- Who is Richard Roundtree’s ex-wife, Mary Jane Grant?
- Who was Richard Roundtree?
- Karen M. Ciernia, the second wife of Richard Roundtree
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