|It was obvious from an early age that Frankye Kelly
would be a singer. Living in Jackson, Mississippi for a few years
with her grandparents, she remembers performing in a play when she
was just three. Since her father was in the Air Force, her childhood
was spent living in many different locations including California,
Minnesota, Germany and Deleware and back to California. She heard
the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Sarah Vaugan along
the way as well as Fats Domino and Little Richard although most
of her early singing was in church, acapella groups and choirs.
Frankye married at an early age, moved
to Detroit and became a professional singer. She mostly sang r&b
during this period and had a local hit with her recording of Johnnie
Mae Matthews' "I Have No Choice". She did backup singing
for Marlena Shaw and for Roslyn Ashford formerly of Martha Reeves
and the Vandellas. She led her own group, Flyght, which matched
her voice with that of four male singers. But then she
chose to drop out of music for a time to raise her family.
After moving to San
Francisco, in the 1980s, she gradually returned to singing, but
this time performing jazz. Frankye received important
guidance from her cousin, the late great blues master Albert Collins.
At a family reunion, we talked about me wanting to sing jazz.
The main thing that Albert told me is that it is up to me to please
and reach my audience, and he told me to always sing what I feel.
He flew me to a lot of his concerts to show me what it
was like to be a musician and to see what the life was like. I
say how hard he worked and was inspired.
Starting in 1989, Frankye
Kelly has pursued her dream of being a jazz singer. "I wanted
to sing jazz because of its freedom and because that way I could
express myself the way I wanted. I studied jazz not only to learn
the music but to learn myself. I didn't want to listen too closely
to singers because I didn't want to copy anyone, so instead I
listened constantly to Miles Davis. I always loved the way that
he played. He would take his time, not rushing into it, and he
played with a lot of feeling."
Among the many
places that Frankye Kelly has performed in the Bay Area are Yoshi's,
"Top of the Mark" at the Mark Hopkins hotel (with pop
superstar Ricardo Scales), Jazz at Pearl's, Kimball's East, Kimball's
West and at the Ritz Carlton Hotels in Half Moon Bay and San Francisco.
She has sung at many jazz festivals including the San Francisco
Jazz Festival, the San Jose Jazz Festival and the Fillmore Jazz
Festival. In addition, she has performed in France, Mexico Japan
Thus far Frankye has recorded three CDs. The Night is
Young was recorded at Kimball's West and showed those
at the time who were unfamiliar with her just how talented a jazz
singer she is, serving as a strong introduction. My Life,
More Than It Is: Not Just the Blues is an appealing mixture
of pop, blues, r&b and jazz, displaying a great deal of variety
but staying consistently rewarding. Her most recent cd, Live
at Yoshi's, Frankye Kelly Sings Songs For My Father,
was recorded on several occasions at Yoshi's Jazz House,
and is a collection of some of her favorite jazz songs. It is
dedicated to her father who was at all of the sessions and has
since passed away.
In 2006, Frankye Kelly spent six months
singing in China, performing in Shanghai during a pair of lengthy
visits. In addition, she made some noteworthy appearances in the
Bay area. Clearly with her talents, she is destined to have a
much higher profile in the United States. Being a Buddhist, she
has high aspirations for the future. "I want to continue
to sing and teach, performing my music for large audiences. I
am particularly interested in performing at more jazz festivals
in the United States and Canada. I am working for world peace
through music. I feel that jazz brings peace and love to all of
those who hear it."
Ms Kelly's Biography
written by Scott Yanow
Frankye Kelly's performances and recordings
always bring enjoyment and smiles to her growing audience.
For reviews and quotes see www.google.com
and www.allmusic.com --
as well as the reviews page on this
website and these letters of recommendation.
Kelly's CDs, The Night Is Young and My Life, More
Than It Is, Not Just The Blues, and Live at Yoshi's Frankye
Kelly Sings Songs For My Father, are now available for
click one of the images to the right to place your order.
The Night Is Young
My Life, More Than It Is, Not Just The Blues
Live at Yoshi's, Frankye Kelly sings Songs for my Father