Local Singer-Songwriter Releases New Singles Exploring Two Different 2020s
Story by Michael Seguin
Photography by Jeff Fasano
Some people take a circuitous path towards reaching their dreams. However, as Leamington’s Francine Honey has discovered, sometimes the wait can make the rewards taste even sweeter.
Francine Honey is an award-winning singer-songwriter based in Leamington. A lifelong musician, Francine first started singing when she was six years old.
“It all started with the choir,” Francine states. “I started taking piano lessons and studying classical music. Then, when I was 12, I discovered the Beatles and pop music. So, I ditched the piano and wrote my first song.”
Francine continued singing throughout her teen years, performing in several different local talent shows. That said, when it came time for graduation, Francine was faced with a difficult decision.
“I wasn’t sure what to do after high school,” Francine recalls. “I didn’t think I was good enough to do music on my own. But, I was also really good at math. So, I ended up going to university to get my degree in Computer Science and Mathematics, specializing in robotics. I guess I was going to build robots and all that kind of fun stuff.”
For a while, it seemed as though life was going to unfold somewhat predictably for Francine. However, she was forced to uproot her life when her husband left a year after the birth of their second child. Faced with a difficult decision, Francine moved her two young children to Ottawa, where she got a job with the Canadian Federal Government.
“I basically had to restart my life in Ottawa,” Francine states. “I was a government employee for many, many, many years. I kept writing songs, but music stayed on the backburner. I was by myself, raising two kids.”
Before Francine knew it, 17 years had gone by. After her daughter went off to university, Francine’s son started pressuring her to take up a new hobby.
“Dave kept saying, ‘You know, Mom, you need to get a life!’” Francine states. “He was worried about me. He said, ‘Mom, you’ve lived your whole life for Virginia and I. What are you going to do when I leave?’ He just needed to make sure that I would be okay so that he could go off and live his own life.”
Encouraged by her son’s advice, Francine went out and bought guitar strings and a tuner.
“I dragged the guitar out from under my bed,” Francine recalls. “And I started writing songs.” Before long, Francine was performing at open-mic nights. And for the 2008 holiday season, she surprised her relatives by making them all Christmas songs.
“After work, I would record these songs as Christmas gifts for my family and friends,” Francine states. “I printed off 50 CDs and gave them to everybody. Then, I started getting calls a few weeks later. People kept saying, ‘Can I buy some of more of these?’ And I said, ‘Really?’”
Francine’s Christmas songs became her debut self-produced album, An Ordinary Woman. Buoyed by her loved ones, she ended up selling 500 copies over the next couple months.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Francine admits. “I was selling these crazy little songs I recorded in the living room, with my son playing bass and my cats meowing in the background.”
Before long, Francine’s love for music and songwriting was burning brighter than ever.
“When I turned 40, I went on a trip to Arizona,” Francine recalls. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do with all these songs with finish later written on the bottom?’ I had hundreds and hundreds of songs that I’d written over the years. So, when I was on this trip, I decided that I had 10 years to finish a bunch of songs and work on my songwriting. Then, at 50, I was going to take a year off from work and take to the road. I would travel around the world and sing my songs to whoever would listen. And when I ran out of money, I would just come home and go back to work.”
Once again, life had other plans for Francine. She ended up meeting her future partner, Michael, and quitting her job altogether at 47 to pursue music full-time. And the last few years have been productive ones. After moving to Leamington with Michael in 2013, Francine enrolled in the Berklee College of Music Professional Singer-Songwriter Certificate Program. She regularly makes the nine-hour drive from Leamington to Nashville, where she has attended writing workshops by industry icons like Beth Nielsen Chapman, Mike Reid, Mary Gauthier and others.
In 2014, she released her second album, Re-Drawn, which was produced by Lang Bliss in Nashville. She followed it up a year later with her Extended Play Record, An Ordinary Woman (In Studio). And while in Nashville, Francine eventually courted her future producer, the Grammy-nominated Nielson Hubbard.
“I was attending a workshop in Nashville by Gretchen Peters,” Francine recalls. “By then, I had recorded my first two albums and they were pretty well produced, but they still didn’t have the sound that I hear in my head. So, when I heard Gretchen’s album, Black Birds, I immediately signed up for her workshop. I went all the way down to Nashville just to ask her, ‘What is that sound and how do I get it?’”
Gretchen encouraged Francine to reach out to her producer, Nielson. He was impressed by her sound and, together, they recorded her third album.
“to be continued”… received critical acclaim, and was a finalist in the 2018 International Songwriting Competition in two categories for her song “Stay.” She followed up the success with a number of other singles and her holiday album, Take Me To The North Pole, which released last December.
And most recently, Francine has dropped two new songs, “2020 Vision” and “Can’t Press Reset.”
“This January, while I was down in Nashville working on an album, I recorded this song called ‘2020 Vision,’” Francine explains. “When I started working for the federal government all those years ago, the year 2020 was supposed to be the year I retired. I remembered thinking about how far away that was! So, I wrote this song about 2020, and how important this year seemed back then.”
However, the unprecedented events of this year gave Francine pause.
“I was ready to release it in March, when the pandemic hit,” Francine states. “I couldn’t release a song about how great 2020 was then!”
Returning to her in-home studio, Francine recorded a companion to “2020
Vision” called “Can’t Press Reset.”
“It’s a very personal song,” Francine explains. “It’s all about what actually happened this year. About how we all feel that 2020 has gone down the tubes. And about how many people I’ve heard saying, ‘Can we just press reset? Can we press the reset button?’”
While most of her songs are layered with metaphor, “Can’t Press Reset” is Francine’s frankest musical accomplishment.
“It’s all about the world right now, as I see it,” Francine states. “The world needs more love. The song is really about transforming. It’s all about how we all need to come together, as one human race.”
Francine plans on releasing her next album, Unfinished Business, next year.
More information about Francine is available at francinehoney.com,