The goal was a simple one: put journal entries to music. The part where music saves a soul or reveals to a group that they are not alone, well, that comes as a welcomed bonus.
Chicago singer/songwriter, Frankie Parker’s art begins with storytelling. It is writing that has become her refuge, her therapy and therefore provides a soothing to any listening ear when her words are released through soulful – gospelesque vocal chords.
The universe is her palette and her spirit opens, allowing her thoughts to flow through ink and onto a blank canvas. Years in the making, Frankie Parker has arrived, and she is here to share some stories.
“My goal was not to save people, but to let them know that I’ve been through it. I’ve been that girl and I understand,” she speaks softly as we sit in the lobby of the South Loop Hotel on a Friday afternoon.
With the release of her debut album, “Breezy”, Frankie, born Tameka Parker, is setting her soul free and inviting all to unwind with 13 tracks of truth telling as she embarks on fulfilling her dream of writing and sharing her music with the world.
N’SIDE FRANKIE’S DIARY:
It opens with the voice of her one-year-old son, Myles. His final line being, “Amen.”
Then the beat drops and an up-tempo track blares out, “Rare!” Almost catching you off guard. A vivid storyline of struggle, abuse, molestation, and low self-esteem begins to unfold revealing the lyrically gritty, “Diamond in the Rough.” If not paying close attention, one could miss the power in content.
The track is feel-good but there is nothing jovial about the conversation.
“It’s a song about a woman who had all the potential in the world to be this great, sparkling, spotless diamond but she never had the opportunity because of all the things she had gone through in life,” says Frankie. “It’s one of my favorite songs and I must admit that I’ve experienced the observation of that type of life.”
The track listing ranges from smooth, like the vibe of Peace, Love and Wine to fiery such as in the popular, Hot Pot of Grits, as the songstress travels through her feelings of marriage, divorce, love, self-discovery and understanding.
The construct of “Breezy” evolved from the admiration of Marvin Gaye’s, ‘Here, My Dear” album released in 1978. As a result of this album also being Frankie’s favorite of all time, her debut is, in essence, a “female response to Here, My Dear.”
“After all the girls talks, parent talks and elders, saying ‘you ain’t the only one baby; you’re not the only one that’s faced it… that’s what really made me begin to put the album together. That’s really what drew me to Here, My Dear.
She adds, “I wanted a blueprint on how to write an effective album that got my feelings out but was also well- written enough where people could relate to it.”
As an artist, the performance is that moment to bare it all and make connections with the people. “I want people to look through my soul,” Frankie expresses. “I want to be transparent enough for you to see my soul on stage.”
Frankie’s longtime friend and fellow church member, Alfreda comes to mind when reflecting on performance aspirations.
“I’ve always admired her in her presentation as far as being able to just sing and squall and people are just passing out. You can feel what she’s trying to put out. It’s not just, ‘I’m going to stand in front of the MIC and sing’. And not that she’s running all around, but you can feel the sincerity in it.”
The energy and vibe from an audience gives a boost to your adrenaline and for the time being – all dramas and cares are non-existent.
Artistry comes from the soul. There’s a desire of wanting to dig deeper and open your existence to the world around you – near and far. Your body begins soaking up every bit – the good, bad, transitions, destruction and growth.
These are seeds being planted to build your character and if it’s meant for your path, these seeds become tools in your power to create from the cracks, dissect the confusion and build upon your experiences to present your story in all its darkness and glory.
“Breezy is like that song that just sets me free from it all; that ride down Lake Shore Drive and just enjoying that peace. That is from that smile I put on to hide all the pain.”
There’s an art to understanding your existence and being accepting of your journey. With “Breezy”, Frankie opens her heart allowing the listener to know that they are never alone.
Closing the album with the praises and support from her mother, paternal grandmother and two of her great-grandmothers, it’s clear that even through her personal struggle and the glory that comes with seeing a goal come to fruition, Mrs. Frankie Parker, you’re not alone either.
Smiling, she says, “ I wanted to show that I had the support from the women in my family. To me, that’s one of the most important things on the album.”