Singer embraces flapper era

NANAIMO - Alice Francis performs her electro-swing music at the Queen's April 11.

Alice Francis

Alice Francis

Alice Francis is a 21st century woman with a flapper heart.

The style and music of the roaring ’20s era inspired her sense of fashion and to create an electro-swing sound – a combination of big band arrangements and classical jazz with modern hip hop and up-tempo beats.

Although the performer from Germany pays homage to the ’20s she doesn’t sing cover songs.

She writes her own songs at her piano or playing her guitar and records them as demos. Then she teams up with her friend Waldemar Parra, a jazz professor from Chile, and then sends it to the Niegel Bros, two hip hop musicians.

“I guess that plays a part in how the fusion between all the genres emerges,” said Francis in an e-mail.

Francis admires many performers from the Roaring Twenties era, including Josephine Baker.

“She was a great performer and artist … she had a tough youth dealing with poverty and racial issues, but she managed to make her way out of the misery,” said Francis. “She was funny, witty and simply adorable. Really striking is that she also chose to be more than an artist. She committed herself to politics by working for the secret service, even risking her life for her beliefs and she somehow tried to give back the love she had received by her audience.”

Besides creating electro-swing songs Francis also raps and performs operettas on stage. She said she draws from a variety of influences for her music.

She performs with swing band the Conn Stewart Hot Seven and DJ All Good at the Queen’s April 11.

“I am totally excited to come to Nanaimo … We can’t wait to bring our ‘little family’ to the Island and swing with everybody,” said Francis.

The show is a fundraiser for the Vancouver Island Crisis Society’s youth suicide prevention programs.

Conn Stewart, from the Conn Stewart Hot Seven,  said that many members of his band are donating their remuneration to the crisis society because they believe in supporting the crisis society.

He said that Francis’ music is a relatively new genre and is very accessible. The music is really starting to take off, he said.

“She is kind of bursting on the scene,” he said, adding it will be interesting to see where the genre goes in a couple of years.

He started his love affair with music two years ago when he learned to play tenor saxophone.

He took lessons with Steve Jones and was hooked on creating music and decided to learn other instruments as well.

“I decided this is what I want to do with my life because it was so immersive,” said Stewart.

He said he’s glad to be part of the fundraiser and help raise money for the Vancouver Island Crisis Society.

The event’s cocktail hour starts at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $40/$30 students in advance from the Queen’s or $45 at the door.

People can win a pair of tickets to see Alice Francis  by entering the contest at www.nanaimobulletin.com/contests/.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com