Frenchie Davis makes sweet music with non-sexual life partner

Frenchie DavisBY CHELSEA KELLER
Lesbian.com

The incomparable finalist from “The Voice” Frenchie Davis and her musical life partner pianist and comedian Kathryn Lounsbery opened up to Lesbian.com about their amazing new musical venture, naked Liberace bonding and why you shouldn’t give a hoot what people think of you.

See The French and Kat Show live in Hollywood, November 8, 2013, or on Sweet’s Cozumel Resort, May 11-18, 2014.

How did you start working together?
Frenchie: Believe it or not, we have been working together for less than a year. It feels longer. As with most relationships between two girls, things evolved rather quickly. We met because I had a gig and the woman who booked me for the gig was a friend of Kathryn’s and suggested that I hire her when I mentioned needing a pianist. We met in person for the first time at our first rehearsal together. It was magic from the first moment I walked into her home and saw that Nina Simone poster hanging above her piano. Of course, the naked-Liberace-in-a-bubble-bath poster hanging in her bathroom sealed the deal.

Kathryn: I can honestly say that meeting Frenchie has been the highlight of my year. I absolutely delight in her and our camaraderie. Every time we get together — whether it’s working on an arrangement, rehearsing a song or just drinking some wine and having our favorite goat cheese — it solidifies our bond. It was Frenchie’s partner who labeled us “non-sexual musical life partners.” She hit the nail on the head. And by the way, she could totally actually hit a nail on the head. She’s butch like that.

What is it like to work with Frenchie?
Kathryn: Frenchie is an absolute dream. First things first, her musicianship is impeccable. I have collaborated with thousands of singers and she is of the finest quality. Also, she can sing anything and in any style — jazz, hard rock, soul, Broadway, opera, ballads — she nails it. She also inspires me. Everytime we get together, I think of new arrangements and ideas for us. It feels endless. That is so inspiring. I literally have an adrenaline rush after we rehearse. And then I need a nap. Frenchie challenges me to be my absolute best. We also have about 30-40 solid belly laughs every hour we’re together. We are looking to hire a scribe to follow us around and capture the magic.

What do you like about working with Kathryn?
Frenchie: I love that she GETS me, Musically and humor-wise, she just GETS it. When either of us have an idea for something that we’d like to incorporate into our show, there is never this long drawn out process of trying to convince one another. We immediately get it. Rehearse it. Perfect it. Done and done. AND we have a great time working together. Work aside, Kat is just good people. She is a good friend, judgment-free and an excellent listener.

What’s your favorite song you do together?
Kathryn: That is an impossible question! Sorry to yell. I’m not mad. Just feeling the weight of the question. I will say that the very first song we ever performed together was “Dock of the Bay.” Our ensemble and musical sensibilities were perfectly aligned. It was thrilling. We have a few new mash-ups that I’m kind of in love with — especially our Britney Spears medley.

Frenchie can sing the entire score of “Little Shop of Horrors” in German. Her accent is perfect. I can’t get enough of it.

Do you have a non-musical sexual life partner?
Frenchie: Yes! My partner is awesome, butch but pretty, and she is sexy. She is super supportive. And she is funny. We are going on three years together, which is arguably a decade in lesbian years. I think that it takes a confident, secure and supportive person to be a good partner to an artist or anyone for that matter. Dating an artist definitely comes with its challenges but, as artists, I think we have to be careful because artists can be a little narcissistic sometimes. We don’t mean to be, but we are and I think it’s important to find that balance between doing what we must for ourselves and our art as well as doing what we must to be the kind of partner that we want our partners to be to us.

What advice would you give to a young person struggling with coming out as gay, lesbian, bi or trans?
Frenchie: The less of a shit you give about what others think of you, the easier life becomes. That’s the short version. Kat, you wanna weigh in on this?

Kathryn: I love that. She’s right. Frenchie lives an exceedingly open and truthful life. We should all follow that lead. As for any young person struggling, I would say to hang in there. Follow your heart and know that you have an enormous community waiting for you.

You’re taking your act to Mexico for a Sweet’s Cozumel Resort, May 11-18, next year. What inspired you to work with Sweet?
Frenchie: I love to sing for ANYBODY, but when I get to do what I love in front of an audience full of members of my own community, it is really, really special.

Kathryn: Sweet is a company I support on so many levels. I was on the inaugural cruise in 2009 and have been hooked ever since. The trips are a blast and having the option to give back is truly a gift. Also, as a performer, I feel so supported by Sweet CEO Shannon Wentworth and the entire Sweet crew. That is worth gold.

Kathryn, you’re an accomplished musical comedian, musician and music professor. How did you get started with musical comedy? Who inspired you as a youngster?
Kathryn: I was always interested in comedy, but I felt like I couldn’t be funny at the piano. I thought I needed to be the quiet pianist in the corner. But all my heroes were Gilda Radner, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler and a local Milwaukee performer Carolynne Warren. She had a cabaret show she performed at the opera theatre my mom ran. I can easily say that seeing this funny lady create songs and bits was everything to me. Another huge step was my two-woman show “That’s What She Said.” That was a wonderful five-year training camp for performing and writing musical comedy.

Tell us about your new one-woman musical comedic extravaganza of rhythmic laughing.
Kathryn: My one-woman show encompasses everything I love: my favorite piano pieces whether they are classical, jazz, ragtime, pop or original compositions; very personal stories — both funny and revealing; goofiness; improvisation; and maybe a Gilbert & Sullivan patter song. Maybe. I’m learning how to integrate my 20-plus years of classical training with my love of comedy. It is thrilling and feels 100 percent right. I’m excited to share it with the ladies of Sweet in May, where I’ll perform it for the first time.

Frenchie, you’re about to finish your degree at Howard University. What inspired you to go back to school?
Frenchie: I never stopped wanting to finish my education. It has always been a life goal and I’ve actually been taking classes part-time all of these years. I think it’s a number of things. My 35th birthday is May 7, 2014, and graduation is May 10, 2014. So I started thinking to myself, wouldn’t it be cool if I could just dig my heels in and walk across that graduation stage by May 2014 as a birthday present to myself? I also thought about my future babies. I really want to be a mom one day and I don’t want to raise children who think that if they can sing or dance or dribble a ball, they don’t have to pursue higher education. I mean, there are 16-year-old girls in other parts of the world who are being shot in the face by the Taliban because they want the opportunity to go to school. It kinda makes all of us, here, seem a little silly, if we don’t do all that we can to encourage our young people to pursue education fervently.

What’s it like balancing studying and performing?
Frenchie: Balancing school with performing has its challenges for sure. There are days when I look in the mirror and ask, “Why are you torturing yourself?” But I know it’s so worth it.

How did you get started as a performer?
Frenchie: I’ve been singing my whole life but I actually got my start as a performer when I was a student, the first time. I used to perform at local drag bars to make extra money in college. Over the years I slowly became a regular performer at many of DC’s gay clubs. I got my first theatre job during what was supposed to be my junior year. It was an opportunity to do “Little Shop Of Horrors” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” with a theatre company in Germany, so of course I took it. Three months after my return to the states, I auditioned for “Idol,” then I joined the Broadway cast of “Rent.” It’s been sorta non-stop since.

What things do you do that keep you on track with setting and accomplishing big goals?
Frenchie: Prayer, laughter, power walks, music, red wine, Spanx, microwaveable brown rice and heart-to-heart talks with Kathryn keep me going, encouraged and inspired.

What’s in heavy rotation on your iPod?
Frenchie: “Applause” by Lady Gaga (like ANY self-respecting LGBT person) and Macklemore, who oddly enough looks kinda like my partner, so it’s difficult to tell which side of my bisexuality has a crush on him.

What’s your dream role on Broadway? Anything in the works?
Frenchie: Roxy Hart in “Chicago!” What? Too soon? And yes, there is ALWAYS something in the works but I am always scared to jinx it by going into deets prematurely.

Follow Frenchie and Kat’s musical escapades at FrenchieDavis.org or sing a karaoke duet with her on Sweet’s Cozumel Resort.

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