Scherrie Payne

Scherrie Payne.

Scherrie Payne was one of the members of the Supremes and is interviewed by DiscoMusic.com member, Dayna Newman.

Scherrie, thank you so much for letting me into your world and sharing your thoughts and memories with all of your fans at Dva Music and DiscoMusic.com.

First let me tell you that you're looking as lovely as ever. I know you're always on the go with appearances, projects, family and life in general. Where does all that "HIGH" energy come from?

I really don't know. Sometimes I'm tired, but I just keep on smiling. Then, when I get home or back to my hotel room, I flop down, turn on the TV or relax with a good book.

Seeing as both you and your sister, the lovely Freda Payne, are both musical Dynamo's one would assume you were brought up in a musical environment, was that the case with you ladies?

Absolutely not. Neither our mother nor father could sing a single note, especially our mom. Our father had six sisters and some of them sang together in a gospel group. They called themselves The Five Stars, but they never did anything on a professional level. Other than that, I always tell people that we got our gift from God, Almighty.

Label scan to Flow by Scherrie Payne on Motown Records.
Label scan to Flow by Scherrie Payne from 1977 on Motown Records.

When you joined The Supreme's did you have any anxiety or fears that people were going to compare you to former members of the group and if so how did you get past it?

That's exactly how I felt when I first joined the Supremes. I was afraid that I'd be looked at as not being worthy because of people expecting Diana to be there. It took me quite a long time to get over that feeling. It was only because of wonderful fans, some of whom later on became my close friends. They just took to me, some sooner than others, but they all made me feel that I was worthy and gave me their full support. I don't know what I would've done without them. To this day, fans from all over the world are still supportive. It's unbelievable and still just as wonderful. I feel truly blessed.

Your individuality and the gift of your voice speaks volumes so when you became a Supreme the fit was like that of Cinderella and the glass slipper. The Scherrie Payne years gave us some wonderful and memorable tracks, please tell us if you would what your favorite song from that time in your life is and why?

I recorded a song that was on the first album I did with the group. It was a song that I believe Marvin Gaye had written. It's entitled Color My World Blue. I always loved that song; I had the version of Marvin singing it on a cassette. I hope it hasn't been thrown out or misplaced. I think I liked this song so much because I could use some of my jazz influence when singing it. We never performed it live though.

Listen to Color My World Blue by the Supremes with Scherrie Payne

When I say the word Disco, what comes to mind and what if anything does and did it mean to you?

Disco meant disaster to a lot of recording artists. It was hard to survive during that era. You had to either get on the wagon and go with the flow or end up not being heard. A lot of artists swung over to that side. There were a lot of great songs that came out of that era. I even recorded my all-time favorite I'm Not in Love. My sister, Freda Payne, Mary Wilson, Cindy Birdsong, and the late Edmund Sylvers, were on the background vocals. Disco was upbeat and fun.

Lets talk about Youtube... They have so many wonderful songs and performances on the site that feature you with the Supremes and you as a solo artist. I love it, but they also have the comment section where I have seen people get really nasty with one another defending and downing different members of the group and giving there sometimes very rude 2 cents. It's usually people who have no clue as to what they are talking about, only speculation. Although I haven't seen anything negative written about you, What are your thoughts on the site?

Oh, there have been occasional negative jabs aimed at me. I really hate all of that negativity. Especially after doing the tour with Diana. That's when so many came out swinging. Even during the Supremes days, so many had their individual favorites. And that's okay, but you don't have to put down another one just because you like the other one. I think that is so ignorant. And, like you said, some got really rude or nasty. All speculation, again, as you stated.

Some people just need to get a life. It's like they don't have anything else better to do than to sit around on their computers and find all of this negativity. Don't they realize that the ones they're stabbing have feelings, too. We're only human. So many hurtful things have been said. Words can be like bullets: they wound and can do mortal damage to the soul. It's shameful. It can and has been, at times, really vicious. It makes me sad.

It is saddening that people are so cruel and judgmental especially to the artists that bring us so much enjoyment just because your in the public eye. Do you feel Motown did everything they could to promote you girls or do you think their attention was going in other directions?

I definitely feel that Motown could've done more. But, I do believe their attention was drawn in other directions. I don't think they were taking us very seriously during that time.

That's a shame, there was so much talent in your group of ladies. During the Disco era The Supremes/Scherrie Payne had some fantastic tracks, was there ever a plan to release a 12-inch of any of your dance hits?

My Favorites being Let Yourself Go I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking High Energy He's my Man

Not that I know of or can remember. I always loved Let Yourself Go, too. Thanks for remembering. High Energy was another great song. Susaye's voice is phenomenal.

Both of you ladies have fabulous voices, two different flavors that seasoned the pot just right. DiscoMusic.com forum Members love the "High Energy" and especially the "Mary, Scherrie & Susaye" LPs, every time we have a thread about them they get lot's of responses. Among your other achievements you can be proud to know you are a big slice of Disco history.

I don't think many people really understood or will ever understand the magnitude of or the importance that this genre of music was going to leave behind. It's a whole world unto itself that only a few have had the good fortune to be a part of. Some people will NEVER "get it" calling it a phase a fad or cheesy. In reality it was magical and the music timeless. Have you had experiences where people have talked down about the genre or made it seem less important than it really is, and if so did you defend it?

Disco definitely had its place in music history. It was exciting, energetic. I defend it because the music was melodic, unlike so much of the rap style of music nowadays. Some of it was monotonous with its constant, driving beats. But, overall, a lot of great songs came out of it. Donna Summer, I'm sure, really appreciated it. I still love her songs; Gloria Gaynor, too. So many others. When you went to a club, the music was non-stop and it made you feel like getting up and dancing. Dance the night away, even if you were tired. Those were good old days. I miss them.

What is your most memorable on stage moment, if you had to choose just one?

There were so many. We traveled all over the world to so many exciting, new places. I can't really think of any one special event or moment. There were so many magical moments. I'm so grateful; I'm blessed

What are you most thankful for?

I'm thankful for the opportunity God gave me when he introduced me to this group, The Supremes. I never imagined that I would have happened. I'm most thankful for the voice He gave me. I'm thankful for the fantastic, beautiful mother I had who always believed in me and instilled integrity and values in me.

Girl, I saw you "yes on youtube" absolutely KILLING One night Only which happens to be my favorite song from Dreamgirls. Your rendition was so beautifully done, when I say you were sangin not singin I am not lying, and we know that anybody can sing, but not many people can sang. ...And that energy... You were not scared to twirl and carry on... and it was to a packed house. How was that night for you?

Listen to One night Only by Scherrie Payne

It was fabulous! It was like back in the day, during the Disco era. The energy was high and everybody was in step, dancing and singing. It brought back warm memories when I performed in so many clubs across the country. People just having a good time, having fun. It was a nostalgic night. It made me feel that I was still remembered and loved. I'll never forget that. It still warms my heart every time I think about it.

Label scan to I'm Not In Love by Scherrie Payne.
Label scan to I'm Not In Love by Scherrie Payne on Altair Records from 1982. Background vocals by Mary Wilson, Edmund Sylvers, and Freda Payne.

You will always be remembered, that's one of the beautiful things about recorded music, It's timeless and a constant reminder. A DiscoMusic.com member wanted me to ask you about your 1982 track I'm Not In Love/Girl Your in Love (a funky hot track if I do say so) and he would like any information you can give about it and also if in his words, you were in contact with the mysterious John Davis?

I mentioned above that that particular song was my all-time favorite disco song. Funky. Hot. Get-down track. I already stated that my sister, Freda, Mary Wilson, Cindy Birdsong, and Edmund Sylvers from the Sylvers, were on background vocals. You mention John Davis. I, in turn, ask you, Who is John Davis? Beats me.

Scherrie, I haven't a clue either, I will have to ask the source of this question. Who at Motown do you believe showed you the most kindness and welcomed you with the widest arms?

That was so long ago. I don't know if I can single any one particular person out. I really can't remember just one person who I can single out. I already knew Cholly Atkins, the choreographer, from Detroit. He was so wonderful. He used to perform on many of the same shows&n bsp;as Freda back when she was doing her jazz thing in the 1960s. Fred Ross, Diana's brother, was really nice to me, too.


As far as the higher-ups goes, I guess I should say Berry Gordy, too. Actually, Freda was his first female artist, even though she was never officially signed to Motown. He coached and came so close to managing her when she was just a 15 year old teen. He wrote and recorded three of his songs on her. We even traveled together to New York when he and his partner, George Kelley were trying to secure a record deal. Berry, our mom, George, Freda and I. I was 13 at the time. I sang for Berry during our trip and he wanted to include me in the deal but it ended up not working out and he and George went separate ways. Oh, well. Who knows what would've happened? As it turned out, both Freda and I still made it in our own way.

Album cover to Scherrie and Suzaye.
Album cover to Partners: Scherrie and Suzaye.

Every voice speaks to someone, some voices speak louder to different individuals. Because I know if I really feel a song or someone's voice I don't just hear it, it speaks to me. Whose voice speaks to you?

My idols were Billie Holiday and the jazz singer, Gloria Lynne. When I was younger, I would put on Billie or Gloria and sing along and pretend I was them. Marvin Gaye became my favorite male singer. I really loved Nat King Cole, also. My favorite by Nat is That Day, That Summer. Of course, my favorite by Marvin is the What's Going On album. Notice that I said album. Funny, I've got to get used to saying CD.

How are the F.L.O.S. doing? Can you tell us a little about how they are?

Everyone is doing well. Lynda Laurence and I have been together since 1986. Initially, it was Jean Terrell, Cindy Birdsong and I. Cindy left after three or four months and Lynda stepped in just as she did with The Supremes. Freddie Pool has been with us for over twelve years. She's a fantastic singer and a wonderful, fun person. We do a lot of laughing together. She has two beautiful daughters and three smart and handsome grandsons. Lynda and I love her.


Lynda is just recovering from a double-tragedy. She had an electrical fire that totally destroyed her apartment and all of her belongings and then, two days later, her father, Ira Tucker, lead singer of the world-famous Dixie Hummingbirds gospel group, died. I don't know how she got through it. Actually, I do. Her faith. I know her pain was insurmountable, but she stayed strong throughout the course.

That's just terrible, please give Lynda our love and tell her we hope she gets in more uplifted sprits soon.

I saw something about a new project on your Myspace page. Can you speak about it at all? I know I saw a big SHHHH... So maybe it's confidential.

Yes. I'm working on a new CD. It's going to have some wonderful songs on it. With the help of my close friends, Joyce and Pam Vincent (formerly of Tony Orlando and Dawn), Jim Gilstrap and Theresa Davis. It'll be a great sound. Ali Woodson is throwing down on a couple of songs as well. We're all very exemd about the project. I can't tell you the name of the CD yet. It's a secret. Shhhhhh.

It sounds like fun. I'e always enjoyed those ladies voices as well. We will be on the look out for it.

How was your experience during The Return To Love tour with Diana and Lynda? You girls looked so glamorous. Was it rewarding for you and would you do it again?

In a heartbeat I'd do it again. It was fantastic and Diana Ross was so warm and caring. She was nothing like so many would like to paint her. All of us have grown from the time when we were so much younger. She's in a different space right now. She's grateful and feels so blessed to have attained all of her many accolades. She's a hard worker and has honed her craft. She's generous and has a wonderful sense of humor. I think she's just great.

Those are my sentiments about Diana Ross exactly. She is a true lady. When Motown let go of the group (sigh) did any other label try and sign you? If not they were crazy.

Sigh? Who are they? No one tried to sign me other than Megatone Records where I recorded my disco tunes. I did eventually sign with a now defunct label, Superstar International Records. I recorded an album with Phillip Ingram (James' brother) entitled Incredible.

Hehe... "Sigh" as in exhales deeply because I was sad Motown let you girls go. I'm going to have to watch my wording. You were like "who is this Sigh Records (l.o.l)?

Here is Scherrie Payne's website link where you can purchase her fabulous rendition of One Night Only : http://www.scherriepayne.com/

Scherrie thank you again for your time and spirit. You are truly a talented, delightful and legendary lady. Much love to you.

Thank you, Dayna, for remembering me. I really appreciate it and much love to you too.

–The End

Recommended Listening & Related Scherrie Payne Links

Listen to Let Yourself Go by The Supremes with Scherrie Payne:

Listen to the 2012 version of Let Yourself Go by Scherrie Payne:

Listen to I'm Not in Love by Scherrie Payne

 

About the author:
is a disco enthusiast and former booking agent. She is also the creator of DVA Music, has done graphic work for many old school artists, and proud member of DiscoMusic.com. A big thank you to Dayna for all her hard work and willingness to conduct and share this wonderful interview with Scherrie Payne.