I was fortunate enough to chat with Blues Diva, Miss Freddye, who was the 2018 Blues Foundation Double Nominee for Best Emerging Artist and the Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female).
Miss Freddye, tell us how you got your start, and why you wanted to sing the blues.
I started singing at a young age with some neighborhood kids. I did not think I could sing. Started singing in church at 15 and, oh boy! Sang my first solo and I sounded horrible! But throughout the years, I sang in church choirs until 1996 when I auditioned for my first ever band! I was “discovered”, so to speak, by the bass player in the band, who, at the time, I was dating. He heard me sing Silent Night to my youngest son. He did not know I sang. He said his band was looking for a singer. It took a lot to convince me! But I auditioned and they took me into the band! The bandleader was an elderly man, who loved blues from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. He played a mean keyboard! He believed enough in me and said people will want to hear me one day. Although I grew up hearing my mother listening to blues, I did not appreciate the blues until I started singing the blues!
If you weren’t a blues artist, what other passion(s) would you be pursuing?
Well, if you mean outside of music, I am doing something already that is my passion…I am a nurse and loving it! If you mean staying in music, probably a booking agent! I love making the deals, the calls, pursuing until they get tired of me! I book for my current bands.
Which artist(s) has had the most influence on you?
You know, so many, but my main influences for music, especially blues music, Koko Taylor, Big Mama Thornton, Etta James, Billie Holiday. I am a huge Koko Taylor fan; hence I was nominated in 2018 the Koko Taylor traditional blues female award, through the Blues Foundation!
To this point, which of the songs/instrumentals that you have recorded are you most proud of?
Such a tough choice! But I am proud of the original song from my second CD, titled, “Lady of the Blues”! It was written by Steve Nestor (who passed away in Dec. 2017). When he sent me the lyrics, I said this is my “theme song” and going to be the title of my CD! Here we are!
What has been your most favorite moment as a musician so far?
My most fav, fav moment in music was I did a show at the Children’s Institute. To sing for those kids with physical and mental challenges come to life when my acoustic band started playing! As a mother of a child on the autism spectrum and to know what music does for him, I was so overjoyed! They were dancing and singing, just enjoying the sounds and the sights. (I had confetti and colorful percussion instruments!)
Has there been an embarrassing moment as a musician that you can laugh about now?
Embarrassing? Mmmmmm. Let me see…. Do I have to answer that? LOL!!! Let’s see… Oh yes, I was doing a benefit show with some friends years ago and I thought I could higher notes. Well, that did not go well! Thy asked me if I was drunk (I was not!), feeling sick (Nope!) I just thought I could be a soprano!! That has never, ever happened since!
Is there a genre of music you are into that would surprise your fans?
Absolutely! Classical music! I get the deer in the headlight look every single time I mention it! Oh, and some bluegrass (ever since I sang a couple of songs with a local bluegrass band, I was hooked, they were that good!).
What is near and dear to your heart? What organizations are you closely involved with?
I have a number of organizations I hold dear and try to give back. Every year I volunteer the music I do, along with my bands, the Relay for Life in Natrona Heights, The Pink Day in Leechburg, Pa, and Music Smiles through the Sonny Pugar Memorial Foundation. I am a two-time cancer survivor and I work with a surgeon who works with pancreatic, colon, and rectal cancers. I have found music soothes a lot of people who are going through a lot.
What frontier is next for you, musically speaking?
The next adventure is to go to Europe! I have 2 tours coming up. One in November and the other in March 2021. I have never been to Europe and I have always, always wanted to go there to meet and sing for audiences, since my music is being played in Europe!
Any upcoming shows?
Well, I have a lot of shows in the upcoming months. But, with the coronavirus, it will be a waiting game. But I will be ready to perform with my awesome bands!