She spent 2014 writing new material and recording with world-class musicians on both sides of the pond. Now the future looks bright for Fran Smith…
Last January, Fran fulfilled a dream to record in New York City, and travelled to Brooklyn to collaborate with producer Brad Albetta (Martha Wainwright, Teddy Thompson) and virtuoso violinist Rob Moose (Antony and the Johnsons, Bon Iver, The National).
Then came a new management deal! Clive Black – son of songwriting legend Don Black, and previously the manager of top artists including Kate Bush, Marc Almond and Cliff Richard – heard ‘Take These Bones’ on the radio and immediately recognised Fran’s huge talent and potential. He and Fran signed on the dotted line last March.
Clive subsequently arranged for Fran to access the famous Air-Edel studios in London, where she recorded and co-produced some new music with Tasmanian-born multi-instrumentalist Andy Page (Pharrell Williams, Hans Zimmer, Alanis Morissette). The results of these sessions will be released later this year.
These are just the latest exciting instalments in Fran’s promising career. Her eponymous début EP was self-released in October 2013 – without a record label or marketing budget – yet all four tracks have gone on to receive an impressive amount of national airplay on BBC Radio 2, Radio 4 and 6 Music, generating a fantastic response from listeners up and down the country.
Born in Hull and raised in Wakefield, Fran comes from a close, music-loving family – one, she wryly notes, full of “strong, opinionated Yorkshire women.” She shares a birthday with Virginia Woolf and a birthplace with ground-breaking folk music heroine Norma Waterson, neither of which coincidences would be lost on the closer observers of her blossoming career…
Fran’s lyrics are poetic, intelligent, and passionately delivered. Her soulful Northern tones have their roots in English folk, but musically Fran will transport you somewhere else entirely. Her intimate, piano-based songs weave contemporary pop melodies with poetic lyricism and a dark, baroque quirkiness that evokes Kate Bush and Antony Hegarty. Ultimately, she will leave you feeling like you’ve stumbled upon a completely new, unique talent, who transcends lazy comparisons.
As a live performer, Fran is “phenomenal by any standard” (Paul Fenn, Asgard). She has been personally invited to play many high profile support slots for the likes of Martha Wainwright, Athlete, Karine Polwart, Thea Gilmore, Birds of Chicago, Boo Hewerdine, Po’ Girl and legendary punk poet John Cooper Clarke. Fran has performed all over the UK – from London’s Union Chapel to Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, Sage Gateshead and York Grand Opera House – and last year played some exceptionally well-received shows in the US.
In 2013, Fran was handpicked by the BBC’s Head of Live Events, Jason Carter, to perform at Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park. The online buzz surrounding Fran’s appearance on the BBC Introducing stage led her to become the “Most Shared Act” on the festival’s website, beating the likes of Jessie J, Josh Groban and the Manic Street Preachers. Jo Whiley named Fran’s performance as one of the BBC’s “Live Music Highlights of 2013”.
Fran has performed live on Radio 2’s popular “Good Morning Sunday” breakfast show, and on Radio 4’s prestigious programme “Loose Ends”. Counting themselves amongst her ever-growing fan base are Steve Lamacq, Bob Harris, Janice Long, Mark Radcliffe, Martha Wainwright, Joan Wasser, Simon Raymonde (Bella Union), Chris Hawkins, David Quantick, John Robb (Louder Than War), Shell Zenner (Amazing Radio) and The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone.
Fran will be releasing new music and playing more live shows in 2015. In the words of BBC presenter Simon Mayo: “Look out for Fran Smith – she’s going to be a big star!”