A Podcast Conversation With ...Angelique Francis
The fast-rising young blues star has the honour of hosting the Maple Blues Awards on June 20 at Koerner Hall in Toronto. Learn more about her in this FYI podcast.
By Bill King
22-year-old multi-talented/multi-instrumentalist and blues maker Angelique Francis will host the Maple Blues Awards on June 20 at Koerner Hall in Toronto.
It’s rare to find a talent who can cover so many junctions of the music business, from establishing a potent stage presence, to singing and playing at a standard far above the benchmark and doing so with a big personality and smile that could illuminate an outlying planet. Francis checks off ten out of ten in the ‘next big thing’ category.
I scheduled Francis at the Beaches Jazz Festival three summers back. She was then a rising blues novice and sI aw what others had been talking about. A truly electric powerhouse in waiting. Covid laid waste to the many benefits that would have accompanied, but the Francis family—pops, sisters, mom --- and all forged ahead with a run of virtual performances. I associated the process with being much like the Jacksons, Knowles, and Williams families. The hard work done at home. The grooming, the demanding labour, hours of practice and polish.
The Francis family are back with a sophomore recording Long River—narratives passed down of lives lived and lost along the river.
More on Angelique:
Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, Angelique is a 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, writing and composing an original theme song for the Gayle King show. By 13, she was proficient in playing other instruments, such as the acoustic guitar, upright bass, electric guitar, and electric bass. By age 14, she played at music festivals across North America, opening for various acts such as Beth Hart, Trooper, and Shamika Copeland.
“...Powerhouse vocals, charming personality, and amazing double bass playing. Never speaking to the crowd but singing all her questions and monologues made for a fun twist to Francis’ performance.”
- Sound Check Entertainment
Angelique’s soulful Smoky vocals and instrumental techniques are reminiscent of a bygone era but with a unique and modern sensibility. You can hear influences of legends like Big Mama Thornton, Koko Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Bessie Smith, and many more within her vocal style. Likewise, her instrumental abilities call Willie Dixon on the bass, Sister Rosetta Tharpe on guitar, Big Mama Thornton on the harmonica, and Aretha on the piano.
Over the past few years, Angelique Francis has established herself as a bona fide star in the Canadian Blues, Soul, Jazz, and Folk scene. In March 2022, she released her most recent album, Long River. The record weaves various styles from Blues to Soul and Classic R & R & R&B. The acclaimed album showcases Angelique’s signature powerhouse soulful vocals, commanding bass/guitar hooks, and infectious Blues infused melodies.
This sought-after musician was a featured act at the Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea Festival, Sighisoara Blues Festival (Romania) Massey Hall (Women’s Blues Revue), Montreal Jazz Festival, Mariposa Folk Fest, Ottawa Jazz festival, Ottawa Blues Festival, London Home County Festival, Aurora Winter Blues Festival, Mont-Tremblant Blues Festival, Trios-Rivieres Blues festival, Ottawa Folk Fest, Val-d’Or Blues Fest, Calabogie Blues festival, and the list goes on.
“...The best word I can use, to sum up, the performance I witnessed was WOW. Francis and her band put on an energetic show that transformed the Claridge Homes.
The title track of this album, Long River, was written about the River of Life. Despite our differences and the vast variations in our personal histories, we are all floating down this river together. We are all connected in this way; We have all shared the same beginning and will all share the same end. This analogy is the focal point on which this album of original songs is based. Many stories, experiences and emotions of joy, pain, triumph, anger, love, embarrassment, and humour are reflected throughout.
Much like life, Blues music is also a river. Blues is at the root of all modern North American forms of music. Their influence has flowed into the many related genres we know and love today, including Rock, R&B, soul, folk, Americana, jazz, gospel, bluegrass, and many more. This album is not only an exploration of the current human condition but an exploration and consolidation of the many forms of blues and blues-influenced music.
Long River is a studio album recorded with live instruments.