Feb. 18—After performing as a burlesque dancer and as a backup singer, Frankie DoWop is moving forward as a headlining artist.

She made the decision after a 2018 show as part of the Beats 4 Eats food drive event.

"I was scared; I'm not going to lie," she says. "It was my first show as Frankie DoWop. But it was great. It was over in a heartbeat. I was panicking for nothing, because it was a different experience for me. I didn't have the band or another singer with me."

After that, "I said, 'I gotta keep doing this.' It was too fun. And being able to do original music, I couldn't be happier."

She had worked as a dancer with Van Ella Productions and then as a singer with her brother, Andrew Franklin, and his band, Big Brother Thunder & the MasterBlasters.

He died of cancer in 2016.

"After he passed, I said, 'I have to keep doing this,'" she says. "It makes me feel closer to him, and it makes me feel how much I love being in a band. This feels right in my spirit."

This weekend, Frankie DoWop (aka Lynzimarie Franklin) headlines as part of the Open Air Concert Series. It will be her first time on a formal stage with a band in a year. She will perform with Monkh Horrell (guitar), Justin "Chos" Murray (keyboards), Theodore Brookins (bass), Dhoruba Shakur (drums) and Lacey Robinson (background vocals).

The Open Air shows follow a handful of 2020 gigs: sets at the St. Louis Public Library and Pop's Blue Moon, along with a backup gig with Chel for a virtual PrideFest show.

Frankie DoWop, known for songs such as "Hard to Kill," "Rollin' Round" and "Forever and a Day" (featuring her brother), is working on her debut album with producers Tom Pini, Blake Symphony and Duke Rellington. The first single will be "Joke's on You" featuring bassist MonoNeon.

Q — How did you come up with the name Frankie DoWop?

A — It was actually my burlesque name. I was with the troupe for a year, but the name stuck and it followed me. I was four months pregnant when I stopped.

Q — What was your experience like doing burlesque?

A — It was the most fun I'd had up to that point. I absolutely loved it. I was originally a dancer. I did ballet, jazz, contemporary. I was thinking I was going to be this big-time dancer.


Q — How would you describe what your music is all about?

A — It's a culmination of all my influences. I come from a musical family. My grandparents met in the Chicago Philharmonic. They were both musicians.

I like to pull from everything from classical to newer stuff. It's classic soul with a little bit of funk, pop, R&B, and then I go onstage, and it all pops out.

Q — Who are your influences?

A — Marvin Gaye is a huge influence; Earth, Wind & Fire; Frankie Beverly & Maze; Funkadelic; Betty Davis. More modern influences are Amy Winehouse and Kali Uchis and guys like Thundercat, and NERD because I have a little rocker in me.

Q — How did your brother Andrew influence you as an artist?

A — Where do I start? I think about him saying two things: him saying "get yourself together, get out of your own way and don't take yourself too seriously." He also told me to be a person who does what they say and not sit around talking about what you want to do. He taught me so much about music. My family gave me so much music. It keeps me focused.

Q — What can people look forward to with the Open Air concert?

A — I want people to be dancing in their seats or in the vicinity in a safe distance from everyone else. I'm not doing it calm, nice and easy. Expect some covers, some originals you've heard, some you haven't heard. Expect to have a good time. Everyone playing with me has been with me from the beginning.

Q — How's the debut album coming along?

A — It's been a long time in the making. Some of these songs are 3 years old. I'm mixing live instrumentation with electronic elements. I'm working on it inch by inch, paying attention to every detail and experimenting with songs. I have one shot to get this album right, so I'm taking my time. I'm releasing it this year for sure, with a single out by late spring.

Q — Do you have a name for the project?

A — It might be self-titled. It's an opportunity for me to really introduce myself as a sound and what direction I'm heading.

What Open Air Concert Series with Frankie DoWop — When 6 and 8 p.m. Feb. 20 — Where The Grandel, 3610 Grandel Square — How much $10, food/beverage minimum — More info metrotix.com

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