Karima Francis

Karima Francis

 Manchester, England, GBR
BandAlternativeAcoustic

She’s been compared to Tracy Chapman and Joan Armatrading but her sound is totally unique. With a voice as striking as her appearance and a natural ability to effortlessly disappear into her songs and make a crowd believe her lyrics... even if she sang the phone book, we’d be excited!

Biography

There are debut singers whose tender years and inexperience clearly inform their early recordings – you can almost hear the tentativeness and reserve in their vocal performances. And then there are those who clear this hurdle in one bound, who hurl themselves over the precipice, who go straight for the blood and guts of a song. Nobody who has heard Karima Francis, live or on disc, can be in any doubt as to which category the Blackpool-born, Manchester-based musician belongs to. Listening to the 21-year-old grab a melody and lyric by the throat is to experience the sound of a singer whose pent-up expressiveness was hidden away for too long, and is now exploding into glorious colour.

Two years ago at the Manchester’s In the City music conference, Francis silenced a room full of hardened music-business bigwigs, and all her gigs since then have witnessed a similar reaction. “I still have my insecurities,” admits Francis. “But I must have some confidence to get up on stage and do what I do. When an audience claps at the end of a song, I can’t understand it. I’m just stood there, and there are hundreds of people listening to my words – it’s kind of hard to take in.”

Musically, her songs – deeply personal compositions inspired both by a difficult single-parent upbringing and by moving to Manchester and falling in love – are far removed from the current vogue for folk-tinged whimsy. Comparisons have been made with Joan Armatrading and Tracy Chapman, but these offer only a superficial sense of how unvarnished and arresting – and unlike that of her contemporaries – Francis’s music is. You may search in vain for traces of her former job as drummer with a Blackpool metal band, but Francis’s melodies are nonetheless forthright and full-on, never fey or hesitant. Her lyrics are uncompromising and heartfelt, too – no English reserve here. And her voice, which will journey to the lower reaches of the register one minute, and soar to the top the next, is a once-heard-never-forgotten instrument. Amazingly, Francis only began singing properly once she’d moved to Manchester. “I just wrote a song and the voice kind of came with the words,” she says, attempting to explain her talent. “I’ve always had this range, which still shocks me.”

It’s not as if her mother didn’t encourage her. “When I was younger, she made me sing these Celine Dion songs,” Francis recalls, “and she recorded them. She used to say to me: ‘One day, you’re going to be a singer. You’ve got this voice.’ I remember finding the tapes in her drawer and I snapped them all and threw them into the field behind my house – because they were so embarrassing.” That insecurity has gone now, though. “I know I’m meant to perform,” she continues. “When I’m on stage is when I’m most alive.”

Early song postings on Myspace included The Author, which alerted tastemakers to just how special a proposition Francis was. “I want to tell you a story,” it begins, over a spare acoustic-guitar figure, “ ... how we kissed a thousand times / Not like a movie / This is real.” Raw and impassioned, it immediately created waves, and it wasn’t long before the labels came a-courting. Kitchenware Records, home to Prefab Sprout and Editors, secured her signature, and she was soon holed up in London’s famous RAK studios with the producers Bacon and Quarmby. The Author wasn’t, says Francis, the first song she ever wrote, as some have suggested. “But it was,” she adds, with characteristically dry humour, “the first good one.”

Together with Bacon and Quarmby and her long-time guitarist and some-time writing partner, Simon Robbs, Francis set about turning her ideas into reality. The aim was not to change the songs, but rather to stay faithful to their beginnings while capturing Francis’s magnetism in front of a mic. Far from feeling inhibited by working in such hallowed surroundings – the studio has played host to the likes of Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Radiohead – Francis took things in her stride. “It didn’t faze me at all. I knew what I wanted when I went in there.” Listening to the recordings she made there of songs such as Chasing the Morning Light, Again, Hold You and Morse Code – songs that will surely make her forthcoming debut album one of next year’s most-talked-about – you have to believe she got what she wanted.

Looking back on her experience so far – finding her voice, signing a deal, recording an album – Francis says: “I still can’t believe it’s happening.” And then she adds: “It’s so precious to me, it has to be perfect; and I fear it ever going wrong. I don’t want it to end.” She’s unlikely to have any worries on that score. Karima Francis has – to paraphrase one of her musical idols, Karen Carpenter – only just begun.

Lyrics

The Author

Written By: Karima Francis

The Author

I wanna tell you a story
about a girl who spread her words out before me
with the sun for her smile
i lay back and start to write
a story
a story

The story of you and i
how we kissed a thousand of times
not like the movies
as real as the sun
the story
the story of you and i
of i

I wanna ask her a question
is any body open to suggestions
if i gave you protection
would you let me sell our love
through a story
a story

The story of you and i
how we kissed a thousand of times
not like the movies
as real as the sun
the story
the story of you and i
of i

I am the author
and you are the queen
you hold the most pages
that i've ever seen
with the sun for your smile
i lay back and start to write

the story
the story
the story of you and i of i

Morse Code

Written By: Karima Francis

Morse Code

I am the devil in disguise
forever changing my advice
there she goes
under the sea
shipwrecked just for me

it's a mystery
why one of us has not been sent to death

I'm sending a morse code
it says this girl is wonderfull
i'm receiving it out at sea
that you are wise and meant for me
i received this through all today
this girl is not refundable

i am the devil in disguise
i promise this ones not a lie
me loving you and you loving i

did you ever wonder how life would be
if i was to never see you again
i will never be unhappy
until the clock strikes then

did you ever wonder how life would be
if i was to never see you again
i will never be unhappy
until the clock strikes then

I'm sending a morse code
it says this girl is wonderfull
i'm receiving it out at sea
that you are wise and meant for me
i received this through all today
this girl is not refundable.

Chasing The Morning Light

Written By: Karima Francis

Chasing the morning light

She's painting again
heavy hands
heavy men
and are studded together
go put on your best dress
in an orphan distress
and we'll worry together

i love you
because you
try to hide those wings behind you
more and more

We reach
our falls
we preach to save the world
we laugh
we cry
we stumble time to time
and we're chasing the morning light

controlled and weightless
to the famous waitress
and our fortunes together
she is open to bleed as i'm open to hurt
we are mourners who just
cant wait their turn

you know
i love you
because you
try to hide those wings behind you
more and more

We reach
our falls
we preach to save the world
we laugh
we cry
we stumble time to time
and we're chasing the morning light

We reach
our falls
we preach to save the world
we laugh
we cry
we stumble time to time
and we're chasing the morning light

We reach
our falls
we preach to save the world
we laugh
we cry
we stumble time to time
and we're chasing the morning light.

Discography

The Author - (Single) Ltd ed. CD 200 copies only

Chasing The Morning Light (single) Ltd ed. 1000 copies 7" Vinyl only

Again - (Single)

The Author - (LP) - April 2009

Set List

Typical Set List:

The Author
Again
Use Somebody (Kings of Leon Cover)
Francis
Morse Code
Oh Laura
Hold You
Chasing the Morning Light