Frenchie Davis is back! After years of absence from the public spotlight the former American Idol hopeful is finding her second chance at fame with NBC’s hit singing competition show The Voice.
In 2003 Davis was a semi-finalist on the second season of American Idol. Early on in the competition the songstress was a favorite among judges. Weeks after the show began airing the singer was disqualified due to topless photos of her taken when she was 19 years old. After her brief stint on American Idol, Davis took her talents to the Broadway stage and performed in the show Rent for several years.
Today, with the scandal of American Idol in her rear view mirror Davis is making headlines again but this time for her talent and performance ability on The Voice.
In an interview with theGrio, Frenchie Davis opened up about overcoming her controversial past, and her plans for the future and why The Voice means so much to her career.
WATCH FRENCHIE DAVIS ON ‘THE VIEW’ HERE:
theGrio: What made you audition for the voice?
Frenchie Davis: While performing at a gay club in Los Angeles California, I met a woman in the audience that remembered me from my Idol days. She told me she was a casting director for a new on NBC called The Voice, and encouraged me to audition for the show. At first I was apprehensive because I was worried about what happened on Idol. But she assured me that the producers were okay with people that auditioned being working singers and didn’t care about my past. After a bit of soul searching I decided what the heck? Let me go out for this. The timing was just perfect and felt right.
After the American Idol experience there definitely was a part of me that allowed all of that to scare the hell out of me. I was afraid to put myself out there again and attempt to wholeheartedly pursue a record contract again. I was content just singing at clubs for my fans that came out to support me.
One day I was at the grocery store and I saw a picture of myself on the cover of the National Enquirer and it was a whole article about me being fat. I realized in that moment “oh my god” being afraid to put myself out there isn’t protecting me from scrutiny. So I might as well go for it, because the media is going to judge me anyway.
I decided no more being afraid. Let’s go balls to the wall, let’s do this!
theGrio: During the first episode of The Voice you talked about how prior to auditioning for the competition you had given up on your dreams of pursuing a career in the music industry. What did you mean by that?
Davis: Theater and singing in clubs was comfortable for me because it allowed me to do what I loved without really putting myself out there.
theGrio: How does your experience on The Voice thus far differ from your experience on American Idol?
Davis: The major difference is that everyone can sing, including the judges. I think that’s what’s been special about the show. There were no terrible singers cast on purpose so we could sit at home at laugh at them for the first two episodes. The judges are not just critiquing us, but they are coaching and mentoring us and wanting to help us grow as singers and performers.
It’s totally different than a panel of non-singers telling a singer after they just sung their heart out, ‘oh you suck.’ On The Voice an artist is telling another artist “this is where I think you can grow, this is how I think I can help you do that, and I would love to work with you; let’s work together.” Any artist can handle criticism if the critic truly wants the artist to grow.
theGrio: Does the blind auditioning process make the competition more fair?
Davis: I think in a lot of ways it does. I don’t know if it makes it more fair, but it makes it all about talent. I think this the first vocal talent competition show that is truly all about talent.
theGrio: Why do you think you didn’t get signed for a major record deal in the years following your time on American Idol?
Davis: I honestly think that they were afraid of the big voice. They didn’t know what to do with it? I don’t have a fat girl complex. I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt, so I won’t blame it on an appearance factor. I think it was my voice; maybe they thought my voice was too Broadway or maybe they thought it was just too big. It wasn’t until recently with the success of people like Jennifer Hudson that they industry started realizing that maybe America really does want to hear people that can sing.
Now you have artists like Jesse J and Adele that can really sing. Before a lot of the feedback I was getting was “you have a big voice, but how do you make that marketable for making pop music.” But now that style is actually in, because Adele is one of the top selling artists right now; she has a beautiful instrument. That’s why I think Christina Aguilera is such a good coach for me, because she is the answer to the question, how do you make a big voice work for pop music?
theGrio: What’s it like having Christina Aguilera as your coach on the show?
Davis: It’s amazing working with her. I love her a little bit more after every interaction that I have with her. I love her because she is fierce. She has a big voice, but on her records she tames it and makes it pop. I’m a huge pop dance music fan, but Christina is one of the few girls out there that has a big voice and can make it pop-friendly while retaining the depth and authenticity of her abilities. What I’ve been pleasantly surprised by is how much of a momma bear she is. Whenever I work with her I get the feeling that she really gives a damn. She is genuinely invested in helping us evolve into better singers and better performers.
theGrio: Can you imagine putting out and album similar to that of any artists out right now? If so who?
Davis: If you could imagine a Rihanna album with a bigger voice, that would be the type of album I would put out right now. I can’t stop listening to Rihanna’s song “S&M.”
theGrio: How would you define you vocal style?
Davis: I’m definitely a soulful pop singer. Everyday that I sing I am striving to find a balance between power and vocal control. I think as far as pop music goes and big voice divas that have been able to be successful in pop, Whitney Houston is the ultimate has mastered the balance of power in pop music.
theGrio: Are there any artists that you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Davis: Cee-Lo Green. He has to write or produce a song for me. I have been a fan of his since he was a member of Goodie Mob.
TheGrio: What is your advice to other young women trying to follow in your footsteps and find success in the music industry?
Davis: You are going to hear the word no more than you are going to hear yes, but you can’t give up. You have to dream big. There will always be someone telling you that you’re not pretty enough, not thin enough or just not enough. I want all the girls out there to know they are enough, as is. God did not make any mistakes when he made any of us. You can’t allow other people’s opinions stop you from going after what you really want in life.
TheGrio: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Davis: I see myself as a successful recording artist and on tour somewhere. I want to be living and enjoying my life. In five years I will be 37, so hopefully will be a mother by then too. I wish there were more full figured girls in pop music and I would like to help break down that wall a little bit.
TheGrio: The music industry as of late has been leaning towards younger artists. Does your age concern you at all?
Davis: No it doesn’t. Tina Turner, Cher, Barbara Streisand, and Bette Midler were all timeless. When you stay true to yourself and let your work speak for you, you become timeless. There are a lot of fabulous women who defy age. I hope to one day be like them.
TheGrio: Do you still watch American Idol?
Davis: I do watch. I try to support and still root for the young people with dreams. Then they do something ridiculous like they did this season by voting off Pia Toscano, and I have to turn my TV off. For ten years they do this. Every year they make me furious because they get rid of the best singers.
TheGrio: Did you ever imagine you would be at this place of having a second chance after the controversy on American Idol? How does this make you feel?
Davis: When I left Idol, people remembered me but not to for my singing and vocal ability, but for the controversy surrounding my show. I think what The Voice has been for me is a in face a second chance. There are a lot of women in this industry that are famous for controversies and that’s what gets them by. But I feel as though I actually have a talent. I want people to remember me for my voice. Win or lose I will walk away from this show and be remembered for my singing, my personality and what I did on the stage. That’s what The Voice has done for me. I can walk away and be remembered for just that, my voice.