Francine Morin

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About Francine Morin

CONTACT INFORMATION


COMMENTS

"A voice reminiscent of Dinah Washington...very strong, distinctive voice...compelling. And she's pretty."
- Former Dizzy Gillespie Bassist, Bob Cunningham

"I have had the honor of working with Francine Morin and have found her to be a vocalist of extraordinary talent, her ability to deliver a meaningful rendition of a song with great feeling is becoming rarer and rarer now days. She picks her material carefully to tell the story she wants told as did many of her predecessors like Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn. I see nothing but bright things ahead for her in her career."
- Legendary Trumpeter, Cecil Bridgewater

"Francine has an earthy, true and pure voice which sings out at every instance! It was a pleasure to record with her!"
- Master Percussionist, Joe Ascione

"We love her here. She's fantastic! Francine is one of a kind!"
- Minnie Rivera, owner of the nightclub Orbit East Harlem

"Francine is a gifted singer. Audiences love her. She gets inside the song."
- Marjorie Eliot, Impresario, Pianist, Actress & Playwright

"From the first time I played with Francine I was very impressed with the way she projects her vocals. She really means what she sings. It's not just notes, but a full story with true feelings. At the concerts there is an interaction between her, the band and the audience. It's a pleasure being able to work with Francine."
- Drummer, Lieven Venken 

"Francine is one of the most soulful Jazz Singers I've worked with here in New York. She swings hard and is a great entertainer."
- Pianist, Matt Ray

"When I first met Francine she had style. Having had the opportunity to work with her over the past few years, I've watched her develop her craft as a singer, bandleader and entertainer."
- Guitarist, Ethan Mann

"Francine is fun to play with. She has a great rapport with the audience and with the band."
- Bassist, Josh Levine

"She creates a great vibe and energy while we're playing together. There's no ego. She loves sharing the stage and sharing the music. A great friend & a great person."
- Guitarist, Nick Russo

FAMILY PHOTOS


Maternal Grandparents
Lucy & Ivan Beddoe
Trinidad & Tobago

Paternal Grandparents
ClÈophase & Aline Morin
Montreal, QuÈbec, Canada

Mother
Verna Beddoe
as a girl

Father
Lucien Morin
as a boy

Father and Mother


Francine Morin
age two

Francine Morin
Montreal, 1994

Francine Morin
New York City, 2004

Photos from the Personal Collection
of Francine Morin

Tip Jar

Francine Morin hit the New York music scene with "a distinctive voice reminiscent of Dinah Washington...and she's pretty", says former Dizzy Gillespie bassist Bob Cunningham. Legendary trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater calls Francine's "a vocalist of extraordinary talent. Her ability to deliver a meaningful rendition of a song with great feeling is becoming rarer and rarer now days. She picks her material carefully to tell the story she wants told, as did many of her predecessors like Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald and SarahVaughan."

Right now Francine's buzzed about her debut CD, Tip Jar, coming soon. The 9 songs include “It's Alright With Me”, “Lover”, and “That Lucky Old Sun”. Tip Jar, recorded in late 2003 is a musical snapshot of Francine's club experience at Orbit East Harlem.

Special Guest: Joy

Tearing it up on Tip Jar's back beat with killer rhythm is master percussionist Joe “Joy” Ascione. Francine is thrilled, Joe says it was a pleasure to record with such a “lovely lady” whose voice is “pure, earthy and true.” Everybody's happy!!!

The drama, the wild characters and the dynamic element in Francine's life flow from music. She's stepping up to strut her stuff as she “settles into her own skin”, with a spirit of warmth, appreciation and curiosity about what's gonna happen next. Her mission as she sees it is to come with straight ahead music, energy, and to bring the real person that she is to her music: “Strong, imperfectly perfect, sexy, gutsy and smart.”

Cecil Bridgewater predicts, “I see nothing but bright things ahead for Francine Morin.”

Though Francine never consciously considered a career in music, the muses have been whispering to her since she was a child. Born in Canada on December 23, 1969 to a French Canadian father and Trinidadian mother; music, art and a spirit of adventure are imprinted on her DNA.

Her mother loved Sarah Vaughan, Nat King Cole, The Mills Brothers, The Platters and other American Pop stars who were legends in her native Trinidad. Intertwined with the music were her mom's stories of life in Trinidad, a tapestry that includes a family tree of Africans, Chinese, Spanish, Carib natives and East Indians. Her Dad's French Canadian background also includes Huron Indians. Francine speaks fluent French.

The Adventures of Francine Morin

In the early ë90s, while a fine arts student in Montreal, friends encouraged her to sing. Back then, Francine was a belter a la Janis Joplin so she stepped in when a fellow singer's problems with the law created to an opening in a rock group. That gig ended when the singer's jail term ended. She had a ball “doing cover tunes in dive bars” in a group called the Myopics, aptly named because everybody in the band really was nearsighted

Francine appeared on television, radio, recordings and performed live in concerts as a soloist for The Peoples' Gospel Choir of Montreal under the wonderful direction of Kim Sherwood. Francine's knock ëem dead vocals routinely brought the house down. During this period, she performed at The Montreal International Jazz Festival, “Les Rhytme Du Monde” world music festival & The Labbatt Blues Festival. Other performances included live shows from cost to cost on CBC radio & national television including a tribute to Leonard Cohen & back-up vocals on several albums & concerts for Manon Brunet, Dan Bigras & the posthumous Gerry Boulet album, "Jezabel,".

Her move to New York in 1995 jump started this latest phase which finds Francine immersed in jazz; an idiom in which she experienced “a seismic shift in her head” as she became a clearer channel for the music's heart, spirit, empowerment and feeling. She says all the wonderful things that have happened to her in New York keep her humble.

Drop Me Off In Harlem

Dropping in on a soiree hosted by pianist and impresario Marjorie Eliot at her Sugar Hill apartment in Harlem proved to be pivotal. The historic building once was home to Count Basie, Paul Robeson, band leader Andy Kirk and Ellington alto man Johnnie Hodges. Since 1995, every Sunday afternoon, the best musicians jam in Marjorie's parlor and anyone who can fit into the apartment is welcome to come and take it all in free of charge. That spirit of welcome extended to Francine personally as Marjorie took time to mentor Francine. “Marjorie's big time nurturing set me on the path to finding my own voice. Because of Marjorie, I am more centered”. Eliot is equally pleased with the results. “Francine is a gifted singer. Audiences love her. She gets inside the song.” Francine also credits Dr. Peiwen Chao of the Julliard School of Music for invaluable support & giving her focus.

Francine's influences include charismatic singers who “have a lot of life behind them; a history that brings weight to their delivery, and who exude warmth. When a person is really sincerely warm, it's very attractive.” She admires the incredible Ruth Brown (“loving & strong”), Etta James, (“powerful”), Marian Anderson (“grace, dignity”) Jessye Norman (“a royal empress”) and Francine attended Master Classes with Marilyn Horne. (“a wonderful teacher”).

As a young girl, Francine recalls watching the late Nell Carter on her TV series, Gimme a Break and imitating Carter's voice. “She was a high energy woman who had presence and felt sexy even though she was a big girl.” Francine has struggled with her weight and is proud of what she has accomplished. While losing weight, she's gained a lot in terms of experience and confidence. She says there is nothing like freedom of expression!

And express she does! Jazz standards, tunes from AM radio, she's got classical chops too. While under the tutelage of Marjorie Eliot, Francine concentrated on ballads. Its poetry, images and colors make ëStardust' her favorite. A steady gig for 2 years at Orbit East Harlem saw the birth of the Francine Morin Quintet. Francine and her band boys got a chance to stretch out and swing.

Orbit's owner, Minnie Rivera says, “We love her here. Francine Morin is fantastic; one of a kind!”

Orbit East Harlem: Tip Jar

Most of us don't have the luxury of immediately knowing what people think of our work. But when Francine and her band go to work, they see, hear and feel the reaction - applause, spontaneous dancing in the audience, the hoopin' and hollerin' and then there's the tip jar.

If you've worked for tips or even if you haven't, you'll be able to relate to what it means to have your work appreciated and rewarded on the spot. Francine says, “It's gratifying to work for tips because you're getting instant recognition that you did a good job.” One night an enthusiastic patron put 100 bucks in the tip jar to hear ëThe Man That Got Away'. Another evening, an Orbit East Harlem regular who's a big fan personally carried the tip jar from table to table.

In addition to building a fan base, Francine says Orbit has been a great laboratory for her music. She and her guys have developed a chemistry and bass player and New York Native Josh Levine says the big thing for him is the big fun! Seeing and hearing them in action brings it all home.

Kicking up Stardust

Sometimes the music isn't the only action. One night, the band's rendition of Francine's favorite ballad, ëStardust' ended up being the background music for a rather heated argument that started inside at the bar...went outside and came back into the club before the music lovers turned combatants settled down. Through it all, the band played on.

Valentine's Day 2003: Heart and Soul

Then, there are times when a single moment contains the essence of all that was and all that will be. On the 80th birthday of Harlemite and Orbit patron Patricia Reilly, the band's swinging rendition of Happy Birthday brought the octogenarian to her feet in an outburst of dance that prompted drummer Lieven Venken to observe, “Now, that's Harlem!” It's all about letting loose with no airs.

Artistic Fragrance

Artistic molecules in the New York air on a New York bus bonded when Lieven met the quintet's bassist Josh Levine. Lieven, who has gypsy roots in his family, was fresh from his native Belgium and looking for work. Josh invited him to sit in with the band at Orbit and he's been drumming with them ever since. Pianist Matt Ray, who also sings and arranges, is from Washington, DC. Someone once jokingly told him he spoke as though he was from the ghetto. No joke. Matt was raised in the rough part of town in southeast DC where his mom used to roll Matt and his twin sister down the streets in a double stroller to curious looks from the mostly black neighbors. Guitarist Ethan Mann, originally from Springfield, Mass, is the first player Francine called for her gig at Orbit. By the time she got around to using Ethan's dog-eared business card, Francine had carried it in her purse for nearly a year. Francine and Ethan met in Harlem at one of the Sunday soirees hosted by pianist and impresario Marjorie Eliot at her Sugar Hill apartment.

Artistic types aren't hard to spot says Francine, almost as if they have an exoskeleton where the expressive, creative energy is right on the surface. It's what she calls “artistic fragrance”. You detect it with your soul.

Francine's soul radar lead her to Harlem where she's found what she calls a nest for her craft and The Francine Morin Quintet. She's grateful for the warm hatching ground where she's making a lot of connections. Francine says it's an honor to be affiliated with historic Harlem.

Dreams

In addition to all that music inside Francine's head are a bunch of ideas percolating. One of her dreams is to form Catholic Gospel Choir and rock the house like she used to do in Montreal.

- Interview by Marcia Salter, 2005