A Conversation With ... Angelique Francis
I first interviewed Angelique Francis in early 2019 and the other side of Covid-19. The videos were raw and coming. The sound, developing. Next up.
By Bill King
I first interviewed Angelique Francis in early 2019 and the other side of Covid-19. The videos were raw and coming. The sound, developing. Next up. I booked her for July that summer at the Beaches International Jazz Festival. It was one of those hot summer days in a treeless campground called Woodbine Park, which today is still unsuitable for music, let alone a performer of this stature. Angelique and sisters soldiered on.
The set was electric from top to bottom. That bottom is Francis’s skill in playing acoustic bass. An instrument she wrapped her fingers around and plucked with the confidence of a Slam Stewart or Major Holley. Then Francis switched to playing slide guitar. At first, I did a double take. Duane Allman, Elmore James?
The set rolled on and the big-voice lady commanded the audience to buy an acre of unclaimed blues territory and make it their own. Never hesitating or second-guessing the roll of the set. There were inconsistent moments, but even those sorted themselves out. I remember a set with bluesman Slim Harpo at Steve Paul’s Scene in the 60s and the fluctuating tempos. One wondered if the band would arrive at the same destination.
Three years have passed. Covid isolation proved invaluable for the Francis family. More practice, more music culminating in several Maple Blues Awards nominations and the big trophy - Blues Album of the Year from the Junos.
I have said since day one, Angelique is the biggest talent in Canada. A week in Austin, Texas, a gig in front of Bruce Springsteen, a session with H.E.R. – kiss Canada goodbye.
I caught up with Angelique and spoke to her about the Juno win, the music, the gigs, dating, and the women she emulates. Here’s that podcast conversation.
More on Angelique.
Juno Award-winning artist Angelique Francis is a versatile and exceptionally gifted musician. This multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist, multi-genre singer-songwriter and composer has wowed audiences across the globe with her electrifying performances, instrumental abilities, and powerful textured vocals. She is known for her eclectic mix of various musical genres, including Blues, Soul, Folk, Americana, Jazz, Gospel and Rock. Angelique has shared the stage/opened for a large roster of well-known musicians such as Gary Clark Jr, Joe Bonamassa, Eric Gales, Keb’ Mo’, Jimmy Vivino, Beth Hart, Tom Cochrane, Burton Cummings, Sugar Ray and the list goes on. Her diversity, passion and love of music can be heard in all of her original compositions.
“…Francis has serious star power. She played the audience like a revivalist preacher, telling stories, singing uplifting lyrics… Angelique’s vocals evoking shades of Bessie Smith or Muddy Waters. Also playing both double bass and electric bass and blues harmonica...”
- Alayne McGregor, Ottawa Jazz Scene
Born and raised in Ottawa, Angelique is a naturally gifted musician who first garnered attention as a young prodigy. She first took to the stage at age 7 and at 13 years old she made her American national television debut on the Oprah Network, for writing and composing an original theme song for the Gayle King show. By age 13 she was proficient in playing other instruments such as the acoustic guitar, upright Bass, electric guitar and electric bass. By age 14, she was playing at music festivals across North America, opening for a variety of acts such as Beth Hart, Trooper and Shemakia Copeland.