Pittsburgh’s award-winning “Lady Of The Blues”, was influenced by the likes of Koko Taylor, Etta James, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Big Mama Thornton, Bessie Smith, and “Big” Al Leavitt, under whose direction she has worked in BMW (Blues Music Works). Miss Freddye has played in, and founded, various groups, including Blue Faze, Miss Freddye’s Blues Band (electric blues) and Miss Freddye’s Homecookin Band. Aside from her music, Miss Freddye has also been lauded for her dedication to charity work, as well as her sensibilities towards homeless veterans and domestic violence. Her latest single, “Wade In The Water” is from her forthcoming gospel album, scheduled for 2021 release.
- Can you tell us a little bit about where you come from and how you got started making music?
Miss Freddye: I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Growing up, along with a couple of friends, we would pretend to sing. When my mother brought me my “first” plastic pink microphone, I really went around singing (only in our house and outside with my friends!). When I was 15, I started singing in church.
- Have you had formal training or are you self-taught?
Miss Freddye: Honestly, I am self-taught. I have listened, watching other artists over the years. Just studying their stage presences, how they projected the songs, the stories they told thru singing.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Miss Freddye: I will keep this answer short……. Growing up I listened to Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Big Mama Thornton, Ella Fitzgerald, and Etta James.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
Miss Freddye: Listeners get a sense of what is happening in the music I sing and they understand that I may be telling their story, where they may not want the world to know it is them. The music I sing has the key elements of sincerity, a story not only about life experiences, but, life itself, music of explanations of love, anger, joy, sorrow, pride, content, concern, and always, always a show of hope. Those are the key elements I have learned to give my listeners.
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
Miss Freddye: As mentioned earlier, I would study other musicians. I knew I could not imitate them. Overtime, I “experimented” on myself. I rehearse several times a week when my time permits. I stay consistent. I have second guessed myself. I had to develop “Miss Freddye”, strong, yet gentle, sassy, yet humbled, and holding respect at its highest. I had to change my appearance. There is a lot of hard work to keep “Miss Freddye” going.
- What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Miss Freddye: I find music as an expression for many musicians. I have sang songs that talks about empowerment, right, wrong. I love singing blues and gospel! I can express my opinion in what I sing. Most of the time it is about a spiritual connection with listeners, with other musicians who share that same passion.
- Do you ever specifically write a song with musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focus on your own personal vision and trust that it will be appreciated by a specific audience?
Miss Freddye: I have written songs about my life and others I have talked to throughout my years. I have made sure my listeners can connect with what I sing. I love to be “theatrical”. I story tell, I joke, I shed tears. This is an appreciation my audiences get to experience.
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do you most often start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed musical piece? Do you usually start with a beat, a narrative in your head, or a melody?
Miss Freddye: I get an idea for a title of a song when I least realize it! I could be in a conversation, listening to music. I image myself in the song itself that I want to write. I develop a sense of what my listeners could see themselves as getting involved in the song too. I “hum” a melody in my head and then sing it.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your musical career, or life, so far? And how did you overcome that event?
Miss Freddye: I have faced several difficulties thru out my life. The most difficult was to have breast cancer, twice. The first time I was diagnosed, I cried for 24 hours! I went thru denial, anger, pity, and finally a “get a grip deal!” I was not sure about the music anymore. But I had to “get a grip” because this was not just about me. As a nurse I knew of the challenges I had to face if I needed surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. Thank goodness, I needed surgery the first time! The second time it came back, and I was ready! I almost died the second time! That time I had to have chemotherapy. It made me realize I need to sing for those who went thru what I had to go thru. I had to sing for those have had lost love ones because of cancer. Before the pandemic, I had been performing for charity for raising money and awareness of breast cancer.
- On the other hand what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?
Miss Freddye: I am humbled and honored to have been nominated in 2018 thru the Blues Foundation for the best emerging artist album and the Koko Taylor best traditional female vocalist. From this, I have been asked to bigger blues festival, do guess recording for other musicians, and record a single!
- How did the single “Wade In The Water” come to being?
Miss Freddye: I was asked by Mike Morgan, a singer/songwriter from Ohio to come up with an old spiritual to showcase. I love Wade in the Water. I heard it first as a child. I have sung the song with both of my bands over the last several years. Mike reached out to Jay Vernali, who is a musician from Nashville, who provided the arrangement, and Kim Parent also from Nashville, who did a fantastic job on the backup vocals.
- Where do you record, produce and master most of your work? And do you outsource any of these processes or are you totally self-sufficient?
Miss Freddye: I have recorded at different studios thru out the years. My first album was recorded at Bonedog Records, McKeesport, PA, owned and operated by Jeff Ingersoll. My second album was recorded at Greaseland Studios, San Jose, CA, owned and operated by Kid Andersen. Also recorded at Tony’s Treasures studio, Cadiz, OH. These studios took care of the production, mastering of the albums. I have recorded at Mr Smalls Studio and Audible Image studios, both which are in Pittsburgh, PA.
- Do you have fixed crew of collaborators, or do you select diverse personnel with each new project?
Miss Freddye: Each project I have done has had a diverse group of collaborators. My songwriters are local and regional (tristate area). These musicians have backgrounds in country, blues, and gospel music. That works with what I do as a singer.
- Where do you record, produce and master most of your work? And do you outsource any of these processes?
Miss Freddye: I have recorded at different studios thru out the years. My first album was recorded at Bonedog Records, McKeesport, PA, owned and operated by Jeff Ingersoll. My second album was recorded at Greaseland Studios, San Jose, CA, owned and operated by Kid Andersen. Also recorded at Tony’s Treasures studio, Cadiz, OH. These studios took care of the production, mastering of the albums. I have recorded at Mr Smalls Studio and Audible Image studios, both which are in Pittsburgh, PA
- How essential do you think video and visual media is, in relation to your songs, and music in general? And do you have a video you’d like to suggest to fans watch?
Miss Freddye: I find my fans love to see me perform. It is also great to see me on video. It is important for fans to see the emotion of me singing the song and get or feel that sense of they can image themselves right there. Especially with the pandemic, video and visual media is important. My fans can find me on YouTube. They can type in Miss Freddye and I am all over YouTube!
- Do you have a favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?
Miss Freddye: I sure do! “what I do is not mine to keep!” I have the tattoo to prove it! Also, I use the title of a song done by Eric Bibb to inspire others as they go thru life’s ups and downs, “don’t let nobody drag your spirit down!”! I live by those 2 things.
- Studio work and music creation, or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
Miss Freddye: I LOVE PERFORMING AND INTERACTING WITH A LIVE AUDIENCE! Had to put that in caps! HA!
- If the name ‘Miss Freddye’ came up in a conversation among music fans, alongside which other artists would most you like to be associated with in that conversation?
Miss Freddye: Koko Taylor, Queen Delphine of the Crown Jewels, Lady A (Anita White), Big Mama Thornton, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Jill West, Sarah Vaughn, and John Vento.
- Do you have a personal favorite track amongst your compositions that has a specific backstory and/or message and meaning very special to you?
Miss Freddye: The song and title of my second album, “Lady of the Blues”. It’s an original written by Steve Nestor, who was from West Virginia. He passed away 4 years ago. It is a song that defines me, tells of strength, freedom, and a spirit within that gives meaning to being who I am! I tell people this is a song for all who need to some uplifting, without being judged for who they are! I love this so much. Steve knew exactly where I was coming from as an African American female singer, who stays true to her love for music and expression of it.
- You’re both a musician and a nurse. What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Miss Freddye: It is such a blessing to be given the opportunity to sing to people who appreciate the music I do. I have tried to keep the 2 apart, but, that has not happened, HA! That is okay. I love to sing to when I am worried about a patient or there is something weighing heavy on me. My goal is to tour Europe and gain new ideas from when this happens. I was supposed to tour in 2020 but could not because of the pandemic. But it is still on the table and I am looking forward to doing! I want to be more involved in music therapy. To achieve that, I will need to go back to school. I am excited about this next adventure in my life.