A Conversation With…Singer-Actress Frenchie Davis: Part Two

Frenchie Davis When Love Takes Over

One of Frenchie’s best performances on “The Voice” was her cover of David Guetta and Kelly Rowland’s hit: “When Love Takes Over.” It remains one of the show’s best performances. (Photo property of Mark Burnett Productions, Warner Horizon Television and NBC)

By: Jacob Elyachar

In part two of my “Conversation” with Ms. Davis, we talked about the last half of her Voice journey, her latest single: “Love’s Got a Hold of Me” and her involvement in her upcoming play: God Doesn’t Mean You Get To Live Forever.

Jacob Elyachar: During the first week of live shows, you sang, “When Love takes Over.” Your cover made it to number three of the iTunes Dance Charts.  What was your reaction when you found out about that placing?

Frenchie Davis: I thought that there maybe something in this dance music thing.  When I was in competition mode, I was really hoping that Christina would pick soulful songs for me and I really wanted to belt it out and do a power ballad.  Christina stated that “It was too expected” and wanted to take me out of the box.

She kept giving me dance songs and all of the songs that I did on the show, charted on the Top Five of the iTunes Dance Charts and it really opened up a whole other window of possibility for me as far as musical direction is concerned.  Christina, along with the many songs that she chose for me, helped me realize that I do not have to be in a box.    Even though I am a soulful singer, I do not only have to do R&B or Soul music, I can sing whatever I want.

JE: What was it like having Christina Aguilera as a mentor?

FD: It was like being in Diva Training. (Laughs) She has really good ideas and has a really good ear.  Christina gave really good suggestions on different things that I could try vocally on songs and she has a really good ear, which is a foundation for being a great singer.    I realize from working with her that she is very musical and it is not just belting it out and riffing, there is a musician inside of Christina and she knows how to intrepid a song, she gave great direction and I enjoyed working with her.

JE: What are your thoughts about Christina leaving the show and taking a sabbatical to work on her music?

FD: Part of the reason why the Voice has been so successful is that they have judges that are relevant in the industry and working.  It comes with a possibility that they might have a touring or recording schedule that may conflict with the recording of the show.    I think that the producers were prepared for that possibility when they decided to go in that direction for judge choices and I am actually excited to see Shakira on the show because I love her voice and she is a great singer.

JE: How beneficial has The Voice been to your career?

FD: In all honesty, I think The Voice is more beneficial for the careers of the judges. But I do think that it is a great vehicle and it provides great exposure for the contestants particularly like Beverly (McClellan), Javier (Colon-the first winner) and myself, those of us who had a following before the show and it is a really great tool. If people who are thinking about going on the show look at it that way, then they will go in, have a great time and leave with no disappointments.

JE: Earlier this year, you released a single called: “Love’s Got a Hold On Me.” How long did it take you to record it?

FD: I recorded that song in a couple of hours actually.  Right after I left The Voice, a friend of mine who I have known since my Broadway days, Janice Robertson, who is a singer-songwriter and approached me and said: “Girl! I wrote a song that I can hear your voice singing and honestly I cannot imagine giving this song to anyone else.”

She added that it was a dance song and that’s your theme and obviously Christina Aguilera agrees. (Laughs) Janice told me: “That the next time I was in New York, you should come to the studio and if you like it, we should record it.”  So I went to New York while I was on the Voice tour and met up with Janice, who played the song for me, and I loved it and we recorded it right then and there in four hours.   Everyone that I had played it for stated that I had to release it.

The reaction to the song has been amazing and Perez (Hilton) got his hands on it and he loved both the song and the music video.  Brian Friedman, the Creative Director of X Factor and choreographs for Britney Spears, got involved and co-directed and choreographed the video and it all came together because people liked the song.

I never imagined that I would be having one of Britney Spears’ choreographers choreographing my video.  All of these amazing people came on board because they believed in me and in the song.  So, it put a fire under my ass to get the song out there and let people hear it.   That’s how I started Frenchie Davis Music Group and my own label.

JE: Let’s talk about your debut album.  How’s the recording/planning process coming along with your project?

FD: The debut album has been coming along wonderfully.  I have been writing a lot and I have been crossing paths with a lot of amazing producers and songwriters.  Once, I decided that I was doing dance music, it all started to come together.   The second single from the album should be out after the New Year and I co-wrote that song and I am very excited for the fans to hear it.

JE: In December, you will be returning to the stage in “God Doesn’t Mean You Get to Live Forever.” How did you get involved in this production?

FD:  The person, who wrote all of the music for the production, has been a fan of mine for a while, and he reached out and explained to me the whole concept behind the whole play and how they are going to be using it as partially as a fundraiser.   I believed in the message that he was trying to send and I believed in the cause and the performance is going to be in a historic performance space in Harlem and I just believed in what he was trying to do.

 

Frenchie Davis Ain't Misbehavin' with Ruben Studdard

Frenchie Davis received praise from critics and Nell Carter’s daughter for her take on the late actress’ signature role. (Photo property of the Birmingham News)

JE: You’ve played a lot of powerful characters in your theater career including Effie White, the “Seasons of Love” soloist from RENT, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and Mahalia Jackson.  What draws you to these powerful roles?

FD:  I think I am drawn to all of those characters because not only are they very strong and very powerful but they all have a vulnerability and I think that I can relate to them.  Also, the music is so damn good in all of these shows and just to have the opportunity to sing these songs is an incredible opportunity in itself.

Playing the Nell Carter role in Ain’t Misbehavin’, I mean why would I turn that down?  She was such an amazing woman and such an amazing performer, who opened so many doors for women.  There would not be a me or a Queen Latifah and there would not be any plus-size black women killing it right now, if there were not any women like Nell Carter opening the door.  Before Nell Carter, big black girls played the maid.  It was the first time that I got to see a big, black woman be sexy, sassy and funny on the stage in a non-stereotypical way.    As far as theater is concerned, she is a huge idol of mine.

I actually met Nell’s daughter when she saw my performance in Ain’t Misbehavin’.  I think that the best complement that I have got was when Nell Carter’s daughter told me: “My mother is somewhere loving this. She would be so proud” and I think that one of the best complements that I have ever gotten.

JE: To wrap this whole interview up, what is your advice for aspiring performers who want to audition for the Voice or follow music in general?

FD:  If you are only doing this to be famous, I do not know what advice to give you.  But, my advice for the people who want to do this because they generally love the art of it, I got in this business because I genuinely love to sing.  I feel alive and free when I sing on stage and I genuinely love it and that’s why I do it.

My advice to young people that have this as a dream is to remember that you love it. Do not lose sight of that because it is so easy to get caught up in all of the fluff and all of the extra things that means a lot but in the long run really do not mean anything.  You can be the hottest and most popular thing out there right now and then five years later, you are on the cover of the tabloids because everyone thinks that you went crazy because you shaved your head in the middle of the street.

The same people who love you and worship you could turn on you in an instant and that’s the media included.  So you have to stand firm in who you are and you have to do so unapologetically and you have to keep going because you will hear “No” more than you will hear “Yes” and you have to keep going until you hear a “Yes.”  If you work your ass off, then you create your own “Yes” if you want to and that is my advice.

For more information about Frenchie, visit her website: http://www.frenchiedavis.org/

Comments

  1. jaidan royal says

    My dad wrote and starred in God Doesn’t Mean You Get To live Forever and I helped out with the production in New York. Frenchie was really great! BTW I am from Lenexa, KS!!!

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