Robyn Vie Carpenter-Brisco, Vice-Chair of Baton Rouge Pride
Songbird Frenchie Davis is a world-renowned vocalist from Los Angeles, California, and a graduate of Howard University. Her theatrical credits include the Broadway cast of RENT, Dreamgirls, Cinderella Enchanted, Jesus Christ Superstar, and the National Tour of Ain’t Misbehavin’, for which she earned a Grammy nomination. She was also a top-five finalist on the first season of NBC’s The Voice, and a featured performer in Wanda Sykes’ Herlarious. An outspoken advocate for artists, the LGBTQIA+ community, and people of color, Frenchie continues to wow audiences with her unique and versatile talent. She sits on the national advisory council for the Human Rights Campaign’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities project. She also recently completed an incredible world tour, and I got to sit down with her once she had finally returned stateside. We talked about reconnecting to the love of singing, the pursuit of other people’s definitions of success, and taking one day at a time.
RVC: How are you? Tell me again where you were for the last three months. Didn’t you go to Dubai?
Frenchie: I was in Abu Dhabi for a week. The three-month trip was Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Camboia, Malaysia…I’m forgetting a couple of places. It was like 10 different countries in three months.
RVC: I’m tired just listening to that list. What a wonderful blessing. I’m glad you got to experience it.
Frenchie: Yeah I’m still very jet-lagged. It was much needed. Just to take a break from America, and the music industry in America. It was really great just taking that break. This trip was transformative for me in a lot of ways. It reminded me of why I started singing in the first place. It’s so easy for all of that to get diluted when other people project onto you because of their own perceptions of the industry, their own definitions of success. I remember people coming up to me after the show talking about, “Oh my God, it was amazing! You should be the next Whitney Houston.” I’m like, “Actually, no.” When I think about women like Whitney and Phyllis Hyman and Vesta, all of these amazing women with amazing talent, who really in the pursuit of other people’s definition of success in this industry, completely lost the love that they had for singing.
RVC: Right. I get you.
Frenchie: I mean for me, after this trip, I’m not devoting any more energy to the machine that sucks all of the joy and all of the passion out of music to begin with. I think people have to be clear on what they want for themselves. A lot of people get into this business because they want to be rich and famous. Don’t get me wrong. I want to make my money. Ain’t nothing wrong with being rich. But that wasn’t my motivation for starting to be a performer. I started singing because I love to sing. And I know I’m really fucking great at it.
RVC: Yes, Sister! You are!
Frenchie: That was the reason I started doing this. This trip made me ask myself, why are you doing work that sucks all of the love out of it, when there’s a whole world out there. You can do it because you love it and still make good money, and actually have a life full of joy!
RVC: YAAAS! [Side note: Joy is my favorite topic, so she had me hollering].
Frenchie: That’s really my focus these days. If it’s not joyful, I ain’t got time.
RVC: You know you’re speaking my language, friend. I love it! Have you been to Baton Rouge before?
Frenchie: Not since I was a kid.
RVC: When’s the last time you were down here in Louisiana at all?
Frenchie: I performed at an event at the House of Blues in New Orleans several years ago. I also did Essence Festival a couple of years ago.
RVC: We’re very excited to have you performing. I found out the other day that you are the first non-Louisiana-born headliner that has performed at Baton Rouge Pride. I had no idea when I suggested you. I just wanted my friend to come. I’m just grateful you said yes. Haha!
Frenchie: Wow. That’s amazing. Thank you for thinking of me. I’m honored that you guys asked me to come. I didn’t even realize that you had moved to Baton Rouge.
RVC: I love it! I’m getting to contribute in big and small ways. I love being my big haired, black lesbian Self in the middle of the room. It allows people to realize that they don’t have to be afraid. They can be friends with a black lesbian.
Frenchie: I think it’s great that you’re there. It goes back to what I was saying earlier. A lot of times we inadvertently allow ourselves to get sucked into other people’s projections, perceptions, and expectations, and they’re afraid to live in a new place or try something different. They’re afraid to be someplace where they actually have to stand out.
RVC: Exactly. So, what new big thing is on the horizon? Anything fun and exciting?
Frenchie: Well honestly, right now I’m resting and recovering from my last adventure. I feel like when people ask “What are you working on now?” it just creates anxiety. It’s okay for the answer to be: “A better me.” That’s what I’m always working on.
Aren’t we all? Don’t miss Frenchie Davis when she performs at Baton Rouge Pride on Saturday, June 15, 2019.