Fran was born Carol Martin on the 23rd Octrober 1930 near Lafayette in southwest Louisiana. She began her jump blues singing career with Don Conway, and subsequently relocated to New Orleans. There she married a saxophone player, Bob Francois, which allowed a simple abbreviation to arrive at her stage name. Establishing a musical presence around Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Fran also undertook a tour of Mexico. Her debut single was “Emmitt Lee”, recorded in 1957 and released by Excello Records. Three more singles ensued, but lack of success saw Fran singing with Guitar Slim, and after his death in 1959, she then sang alongside Nappy Brown, Lee Dorsey, and Joe Tex.
Lyric Records then offered her a recording contract, and she released a swamp-pop version of “The Great Pretender” (1962) and a cover version of “Crying in the Chapel” (1964). Despite a reissue of the latter on Josie Records, her momentum was stalled by Elvis Presley’s release of his own version. Her follow-up, “You Can’t Stop Me”, was enhanced by an arrangement by Sammy Lowe, whilst the Bobby Darin song “A World without You” also failed to sell well. After another effort, “Any Day Love Walks In”, she returned to the concert circuit.
In 1967 she signed to Roulette Records and issued a version of Brook Benton’s “So Close”. Success still eluded her, and many recordings remained unreleased. Downhearted she concentrated on performing in clubs back in Louisiana. In 1982, Fran met the session guitarist Clarence Hollimon, and they went on to marry a year later and moved to Texas. After they’d appeared together in concert, Black Top Records released their 1992 album Soul Sensation. In 1993 Fran contributed to Guitar Shorty’s album Topsy Turvy. In 1996, Fran and Hollimon appeared at the Long Beach Blues Festival.
See There! (1994) was her next album release, before another collaboration with Hollimon saw the issue of It’s About Time in 2000. However, Hollimon died the same year, and Fran moved back to Lafayette, releasing Fran-tastic in October 2001.
Edited by Grosseteste on 4 Oct 2013, 16:03
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