Featured Artist

Fran Gray Fran 
Gray

Sitting in a French bay window and singing the words to a Petula Clark song at age five is the catalyst for her career. “ I remember repeating the words my sister was singing and thinking wow I really like music.” By the time Fran was ten she was playing guitar in her older sister’s band, but this line up didn’t last long. She set out as a solo artist and was booking gigs at age eleven. Although her initial influence was Rock and Metal, while in the Chicago area she was involved in a bluegrass band called North Wind. Fran’s fondest memory was playing in a band called Appalachian Swing. “We were doing stuff like Django Reinhardt and Cole Porter. They were just the best players and I was so lucky to have been involved in that.”

It was immediately apparent that Fran has an intense love for performing and many different types of music, but when the conversation turned to the topic of major record labels things got heated. “ I want to see them topple. They have stolen so much from bands that we love. I wish I could see the “suits” sweating it over things like MP3. We’re earning our own money as independents without their help and we are not interested in signing with major labels anymore.” It also goes beyond the dollars and cents equation as far as she is concerned: “Independent CDs aren’t formulated, we dictate what is going to appear on an album. Selections are varied and I feel we are turning out a superior product. It makes you take a deep breath and say this is great.”

Fran started her label Heart Spring Music in 1997. She has three other artists signed to it. Curious if that took away from the time she needs to do her own music she said: “I’m not a record executive. I just say here’s my label, you have to do your own promotions. They still own all their own songs I’m just giving them the name to work under. We’re helping each other because we love the art of music. This is the coolest thing in the world. If they were signed with a major label they wouldn’t make a penny. Because we are independents we are making more money I’m convinced of it.”

Currently songwriting is very important to her: “The big payback is writing a good song and expressing something accurately.” In the past her music has been described as dark. “That’s o.k. It’s true and life is sometimes like that. If you write about light stuff all the time you’re not going to touch people. At least for me, when I listen to music I’m touched by music that I can say that happened to me and it really sucked.” This is by no means is the totality of her most recent release Singular Intent. It is a surprising compilation of many different moods that flow from one to the next like a river of emotions. Never knowing what is around the next bend, but takes your breath away when you get there.

If there is anything Fran would like prospective listeners to know is this: “I would like people to know me through my music. This is who I am and I can relate to you. I think we all share common pain and joy even if our experiences are different. I always hope there is some healing in my music.”
Judging from her songs she has accomplished this goal in an exceptional way.

Article written by: Leslie Sallee
Leslie Sallee is a former audio engineer and is currently trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life.

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