Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Two For Tuesday: Connie Francis

Today we start a new series here on Two for Tuesday: Chanteuses. Or, if you prefer, Women of Song. Or Lady Singers. I think you get my drift. If you can come up with a better name for the series, have at it. Please. I mean it.

Anyway, we begin with Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero, which she shortened (thank heaven) to Connie Francis. She got her start on the Arthur Godfrey show as a singer/accordion player. Arthur suggested she change her last name to Francis (it was easier to pronounce) and get rid of the accordion. A record contract came out of it, with MGM Records, who told her to do a song called “Freddy,” because one of the bosses there had a son named Freddy who had a birthday coming up. Needless to say, it didn’t do all that well, nor did most of the rest of her catalog with MGM, though she was called upon to provide the singing voice for Tuesday Weld in the 1956 movie Rock, Rock, Rock and for Freda Holloway in the 1957 movie Jamboree.

By 1957, when she had a minor hit (#93 on the Hot 100) with “The Majesty of Love” backed with “You, My Darlin’ You” (duets with country singer Marvin Rainwater), MGM told her they would be terminating her contract. In her last recording session with MGM, she recorded “Who’s Sorry Now?” She hated the Kalmar and Ruby song, but her father insisted, saying she could turn it into a hit with the kids and the older generation. It debuted on American Bandstand at the beginning of 1958 and became a huge hit and had MGM begging her to come back.

She looked for an appropriate song for a followup, but her next few ballads did poorly. When she met with Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield and heard their ballad offerings, she decided she wanted to do something different. Greenfield suggested “Stupid Cupid,” which Sedaka thought would be an insult to her. She loved it, and took it to #14 in the US and #1 in the UK.

Her 1960 album Connie Francis Sings Italian Favorites, recorded at Abbey Road Studios, was the first of her “international favorites” albums. A song from that album, “Mama,” rose to #8 in the US and #2 in the UK. She recorded seven more “favorites” albums between 1960 and 1964, establishing her as an adult contemporary act. She still recorded for the youth market, including “Where The Boys Are” in 1961, which became her theme song and the theme song from the movie of the same name.

It’s hard to summarize a career like Connie’s that goes back more than sixty years and that has seen triumph and tragedy, so I’ll just refer you to her official website, which has her discography and biographical information. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Vimeo. She’s still active, still beautiful, and sounds wonderful.

Connie Francis, your Two For Tuesday, August 9, 2016.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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