James Francies may only be 21-years-old, but he's already charting a course for musical success. A regular guest musician with The Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Francies is currently at work on his debut album for Blue Note Records.
NAME: James Francies
HOMETOWN: Houston, Texas (but I live in New York City now).
MUSICAL TRAINING: Coming from Houston, almost everybody came-up playing in church. I studied classical piano and jazz. Bobby Lyle, in particular, played a huge role in my musical development as a teacher and role model.
FIRST GIGS: Playing in churches in Houston. Later, I started a trio at the age of 13 or 14 and played all over the city.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Igor Stravinsky, Art Tatum, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Earth Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan,
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Massive Attack, Busta Rhymes, John Mayer… I listen to a lot of stand-up comedy, too - people like Tom Segura, Jim Gaffigan, Paul Mooney, Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K.
INSTRUMENTS PLAYED: I’ve only played piano my whole life!
MY BIG BREAK: When I was 19-years-old, I played my first gig with The Roots for the NBA All-Star weekend in New York City. That was such an amazing experience. To this day, I still work with them and that has opened many doors for me.
LATEST ALBUM: I’ve been getting ready to record my debut album for Blue Note Records. I also have been finishing up a duo album with the drummer Eric Harland.
FAVORITE KEYBOARD GEAR: As a Korg Artist, I'm always happy with the Korg Kronos, King Korg, and MicroKorg. That's usually what I'm using.
WHAT’S NEXT: I’ll be on tour in Europe for basically the whole summer playing with Stefon Harris, Eric Harland, Chris Potter Trio, and Jose James. In addition to touring, I’ll be recording my debut album on Blue Note produced by Don Was. You can also catch me with The Roots on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon from time to time.
ADVICE: At the end of the day, make sure you love what you’re doing. People can hear what’s real. Serve the truth.
Learn more at jamesfranciesmusic.com