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About Carol Fran
Soul-blues diva Carol Fran was born October 23, 1933, in Lafayette, LA. After beginning her career as a teen singing jump blues with the Don Conway Orchestra, she eventually landed in New Orleans, marrying saxophonist Bob Francois. Abbreviating her married name to simply Fran, she became a constant presence on the Bourbon Street club circuit before mounting an extended tour of Mexico. In 1957, she cut her first sides for the R&B label Excello, scoring a regional smash with her debut single "Emmitt Lee." Though she recorded extensively for Excello, only three more singles were released during Fran's abbreviated tenure with the label and she soon signed on as a featured vocalist with blues legend Guitar Slim. She continued touring with the group in the wake of Slim's 1959 death, appearing alongside various substitutes, including Nappy Brown, Lee Dorsey, and Joe Tex.
In 1962, Fran signed to Lyric and released a pair of singles, including a swamp pop rendition of "The Great Pretender"; she spent two more years on the road before catching on with the Jubilee subsidiary Port for a 1964 cover of the Orioles' classic "Crying in the Chapel." The single was then reissued on the Josie label, but was lost in the shuffle when Elvis Presley scored with his own reading of the song soon after.
Undaunted, Fran remained with Port for a series of smoldering soul sides spotlighting her crystalline vocals to magnificent effect. While the follow-up "You Can't Stop Me" featured a Sammy Lowe arrangement, her third effort for the label, the lovely "A World Without You," was penned by Bobby Darin. Sadly, both failed to make any commercial headway; however, and after one more single for Port, "Any Day Love Walks In," Fran returned to touring. She did not re-enter the studio until 1967, signing to Roulette for a cover of Brook Benton's "So Close." Despite cutting a surplus of material during her Roulette stay, the sessions remained in the can -- embittered by her label experiences and stung by years of ill-informed financial dealings, she returned to Louisiana and spent over a decade confining her activities to small clubs. In 1982, Fran was reunited with Clarence Holliman, a noted studio guitarist she briefly dated a quarter century earlier; the couple eventually married and relocated to Texas, appearing live together and in 1992 signing to Black Top to issue the album Soul Sensation. See There followed two years later, and after a long studio hiatus, Fran and Holliman resurfaced on JSP with the aptly titled 2000 release It's About Time. ~ Jason Ankeny
- Lafayette, LA
- Oct 23, 1933
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