Frankie J can sing it all.
In English and Spanish, from freestyle to Latin pop, for which he was nominated for a Grammy in 2013.
But as longtime fans know, Frankie J’s professional musical journey started with Tejano music, and the Kumbia Kings, in particular, during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Now, with his latest album, Canciones Que Recuerdo, Frankie J dives even deeper into his musical roots and expands his repertoire with timeless Mexican standards from his childhood. The album includes such classics as “Sabor a Mi,” “El Rey,” “Amor Eterno,” “La Farsante,” and two duets – “Fue un Placer Conocerte,” featuring his talented daughter, Emily; and “Buenos Amigos,” first made famous by the iconic Selena and Alvaro Torres, and which Frankie J sings together with Lupita Infante, granddaughter of the legendary Pedro Infante.
And July 31, fans can see and hear Frankie J perform these vocal delights – and all of his other hits like “Obsesion (No Es Amor)” and “Don’t Wanna Try” – during his first virtual concert via the Sessions Live platform. The concert is at 7pm (PT). More details will come via Frankie J’s social media platforms as the concert date nears but fans will need to download an app to enjoy the show.
In an interview Thursday, Frankie J spoke exclusively with Tejano Nation about an array of topics including, the challenges and triumphs of his new album, what he’s working on now, and if he would ever record a Tejano album.
When asked how “Canciones Que Recuerdo,” which features rancheras, mariachi, and powerful ballads, challenged him as a vocalist, Frankie J said he overcame a few major obstacles.
“It challenged me a great deal because, for one, I had never sang rancheras,” he said. “For me, it was just a different atmosphere to dip into simply because some of the rhythms and following the songs. When it comes to the mariachi, I’ve never sang with a mariachi before so that was challenging.”
Once he worked towards perfecting his timing, the crooner then faced the unenviable task of recording songs for which well-known versions already existed and recorded by such vocal powerhouses as Juan Gabriel and Luis Miguel.
“On some of the songs, they were really strong,” Frankie J said. “I mean, obviously, the ones from Juan Gabriel, because he had a really, really strong vocal and a really high range. That right there was a challenge in itself. Although, I’ve always been able to reach high notes when it comes to my singing, but, with the mariachi, it was just a very different style. But I was able to get through the songs.”
Frankie J more than gets through the songs. He adds his own flavor and flourish to the classics as he extends notes with an impressive vocal endurance, experiments with the vocal gymnastics for which he is known, and expresses an obvious passion into the lyrics, which he said was not a struggle for him.
“As far as the feeling goes, I mean, for me, it comes natural because I’ve heard these songs all my life,” he said. “I’ve heard them since I was a kid from my grandparents and my parents so getting to get the groove of things was really, really easy for me on that aspect.”
He added: “These songs are just such classic songs I grew up with as a kid and that helped me a lot in the process of recording. That was a plus.”
When it came time to record the duet “Buenos Amigos,” Frankie J said he didn’t feel pressure to recreate the sound made by the unforgettable pairing of Selena and Torres.
“This is what I say to everyone,” he said. “When it comes to a remake, you always want to have your own original style to it. You want to add your own vibe and your own feel to it. Because if you try to duplicate what has already been done, it’s never going to be able to happen.”
Frankie J met Lupita Infante, the vocalist with whom he would sing “Buenos Amigos,” through a mutual friend and Infante selected the song. Frankie J presented the idea of instilling a ranchera sound into the song and Infante agreed. The result is a beautiful rendition of the duet.
“I wanted to add something really cool and distinctive to this particular album when I started putting it together,” Frankie J said. “And I was always trying to figure out who to do a song with. So, when we met, it was like the hand and the glove, and we just decided to put something together.”
Either one of the album’s two duets, “Buenos Amigos” with Infante, or “Fue un Placer Conocerte” performed with his daughter, Emily, will be the next single released from “Canciones Que Recuerdo.”
Currently, the single and video for “La Farsante” is the latest release from the album.
Frankie J is always working and despite the quarantine, this is still the case. He revealed that a collaboration with Tejano artist DJ Kane is currently in the works.
“I’m always working on songs, I’m always working on different music,” Frankie J said. “As a matter of fact, DJ Kane, my brother from the Kumbia Kings, is working on a project right now and he called me about a week ago to work on something on his project so I think we’re going to do that.”
Asked if he would ever record a Tejano album, Frankie J said the idea had actually come up with Tejano artist Bobby Pulido although nothing has yet been recorded.
“Me and Bobby, Bobby Pulido, Jr., were actually talking, playing around with the idea of maybe doing something together,” Frankie J said. “It’s never happened. We haven’t gotten together. We’re good friends. But we’ve never gone in the studio and decided to put something together… but hopefully, in the near future, it would be kind of cool to put something like that together with Bobby, or some of the Tejano artists, well-known artists that are out there.”
The idea between Pulido and Frankie J may have come following an impromptu performance two years ago in San Antonio when Pulido pulled Frankie J onstage to sing a Juan Gabriel cover.
“The crowd loved it,” Frankie J said. “The crowd enjoyed it so it might have sparked something there. But yeah, we’ll see.”
In the meantime, Frankie J, who lived in Texas for several years and still refers to it as his “second home,” thanks his Tejano fans, and has this message for them:
“It’s been an incredible journey for me, an incredible ride, and I just hope that they continue to show the love and support.”
Frankie J adds: “And I just want to tell them that I’m very fortunate to have all my Tejano fans still there supporting and stay tuned for new music because it’s coming!”
More is also coming on Frankie J’s July 31 virtual concert so stay tuned to Tejano Nation for all of the latest updates.
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