Frankie and The Family Band
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Frankie and The Family Band

Newark, New Jersey, United States | INDIE

Newark, New Jersey, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Karen Francis is a Force of Nature..."

Karen Francis is a force of nature. She blows in like a gale-force wind on "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," and barely slows down as she powerfully redefines jazz vocals with standards and originals.....Better Days is one of the best vocal jazz albums released this year. Let us hope there are many more to come.
- C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz

- All About Jazz

"She confronts the challenge of slow ballad standards with tact and rare taste."

"The relaxed, conversational intimacy of her style is delivered with innate confidence. She confronts the challenge of slow ballad standards with tact and rare taste. Francis hints at limitless potential; the intimate timbre of her voice is matched by a sophisticated, low-key approach that indicates she understands the drama of restraint."
- Cadence Magazine - Cadence Magazine

"If you've never heard of Karen Francis, you owe it to yourself to get acquainted with her..."

"If you've never heard of singer Karen Francis, you owe it to yourself to get acquainted with her and consider this recording (Where Is Love? ) your engraved invitation. Her ballads tug at you as she sings with a genuine passion, and her cookers lighten your load and make you smile." You want effortless delivery? Then listen to the opening "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry," a tune that Karen nails, singing it with a sense of despair but with a glimmer of hope that tomorrow will be a better day."

- Jazz Quarterly

"Sincere soulfulness and unaffected interpretations."

"The ballads radiate a sincerity and soulfulness that stem from Francis' unaffected interpretations."

- The Washington Post

"Among Giants.."

"...many of these singers are well worth seeking out, either in person, on record: Tony Bennett, Carmen Bradford, Jay Clayton, Ethel Ennis, Karen Francis, Aretha Franklin, Astrud Gilberto..."

- Singing Jazz: The Singers and their styles.

"A young American singer with enormous charm and potential."

A young American singer with enormous charm and potential. If Francis never gets any better than this, she will go far. I suspect that she will move on and up."
- Jazz Journal

"Immensely gifted young lady who is progressing by leaps and bounds..."

Little Sunflower will serve to further spread the word about this immensely gifted young lady, who is progressing by leaps and bounds, yet has her feed planted firmly on the ground."

- The Blackwell Guide to Recorded Jazz

"Reminiscent of Sarah Vaughan - with the relaxed quality of a diva."

Often compared to Nancy Wilson and Dinah Washington, her tonal quality is more reminiscent of Sarah Vaughan - with the relaxed quality of a diva. - Pure Jazz Magazine

"This lady is a name to watch."

"The track (New World on 'Mandara Blossoms') shows Miss Francis is totally at home in this context, while Daydream, in complete contrast, with its quality lyrics, emphasizes her control at ultra-slow tempo, indisputably proving this lady is a name to watch."
- Brian Davis, Jazz Journal
- Jazz Journal

"Who is that?!"

Who is that?!" Have you heard her before?!"
- Downbeat Magazine


Madara Blossoms (Stanley Cowell featuring Karen Francis) - SteepleChase Records
Where Is Love? - SteepleChase Records
Little Sunflower - SteepleChase Records
Better Days - VirgoRising Records



Born to and raised by a musician in Keysville, Georgia, Karen Francis - now known as "Frankie" - had a father who played the piano, sang, and was a band and acapella choir director.

Frankie was discovered by jazz pianist and producer, Stanley Cowell when she met him at a party at his home in Maryland. On request, she nervously sat in with him and a few weeks later he invited her to record with him - which she did. That was her first real gig ever. They made a CD called "Mandara Blossoms" for SteepleChase records, recorded in New York City. She was excited and terrified all at the same time. Being new to the music and the musicians, Stanley gave her the opportunity to work with himself, Ralph Peterson and Billy Pierce. This experience went a long way towards helping her to shape and direct her sound and approach to music.

That opportunity led to two solo recordings of her own with the same label: 'Where is Love?' and 'Little Sunflower'. Later she recorded a project titled 'Better Days' with Indie label - VirgoRising Records. On those projects she worked with Larry Willis, Mark Turner, Christian McBride, Lonnie Plaxico, Gerry Eastman, George Cables, George Colligan, James King, Antonio Parker, Mike Hawkins, Nasar Abadey, Sam Turner, Barnette Williams and Aaron Walker.

Their sound is what you might call elastic. It goes from 'if-john-coltrane-was-a-singer-his-horn-would -sound-like-her-voice' to 'honey-dipped-smooth-soothe'.

Karen works with versatile, high energy players who can stroll inside a ballad and run inside a swing. She uses the voice like an instrument.

What sets her music apart from other bands is a special chemistry that she creates with her groups and the intimacy of her approach to her work. Taken together she makes profound contact with the audience.

It's something that is hard to describe but is known when you feel it - like the magic that happens when the chemistry is right between lovers.

Karen peforms some really inspiring original music that she co-writes with some of the band members.

Her earliest days of music began somewhere around age 4 when she spent time laying under my father's baby grand piano while he played "Two Sleepy People". He made that piano sigh and weep and Karen remembers feeling what he was feeling when he played.

She would also go with her father to his weekly choir rehearsal, sitting quietly on the back riser in the choir room while he rehearsed his acapella group at Boggs Academy in Georgia.

That's when she started learning about vocal articulation since he was very particular about that.

At around that same time her father started her on the piano. "I can't remember not listening to music though - or not being around it. My parents had Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme, and Marian Anderson records that I listened to over and over and over and over... And I was also addicted to movie musicals on tv - and I was in love with Barbara Streisands musicals", say Francis.

Eventually - in grade school - she took on the clarinet and added baritone horn, alto saxophone and baritone sax.

While doubling on the barry, the boy who was the section leader of the baritone section thought she was better on clarinet (didn't like the competition) and eventually they became high school sweethearts. What he learned about jazz, he taught her, so she learned the music from, inside of, and because of love.

"Each time I make a record, it's a wonderful, complicated, fun, and intense personal and spiritual growth process", states Karen.

Her latest project in development features Donald Vega, Marc Cary, and Norman Simmons (piano), Curtis Lundy (bass), and Alvester Garnette and Greg Hutchinson (drums). This features some beautiful musical love thrown in from Mark Gross and Justin Robinson on alto saxophone.

Francis is moving forward progressively. You will not regret an experience with Karen, now known as "Frankie" and her Family Band.