Howard Francis – Music Academy
From his early days in East London, England where he played piano for the local church choir Howard Francis drew inspiration from the enduring musical traditions of the Pentecostal church including Blues, Soul, R&B, Jazz and Gospel.
Alongside his dexterity, Francis’ simmering skill and determination would lead to his first forays in the field of session music when he became affiliated, at their inception, with the highly-regarded London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC) for whom he has penned hits, hymns and harmonies for over two decades. Synthesising his influences of Jazz, Pop and R&B Francis has produced popular Christian songs such as ‘Perfect Harmony’, ‘I Will Wait’ and the definitive ‘True Praises’ which have helped him to garner critical acclaim and expand his audience as the LCGC continue to travel extensively throughout Europe, Asia and the Caribbean often with Francis at the helm of what has proved to be a fruitful and lasting partnership.
His songs, while stylistically expressive have maintained the kind of spiritual gravitas that has led many to indict him of Greatness and label him Legendary, echoing the likes of Andrae Crouch, with whom in a career-defining moment Francis had the distinct pleasure of working with in the early 1980s.
He then went on to play a key part in the making of Donnie McClurkin’s Grammy-nominated ‘Live in London’ disc while broadening into the pop market to include work with some of the world’s leading and best-selling artists.
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Today you are likely to hear Francis with anyone from Terrence Trent D’Arby to Michael Bolton, Blue, Five, Misteeq, Van Morrison, Mica Paris, Tom Jones, Alesha Dixon, Brian Ferry and Des’ree, all of whom have sought his talents on stages and in studios as pianist, vocalist or Hammond meister at some stage of their illustrious careers.
More recently Francis has been busy touring the globe with superstar acts including Will Young with whom he performed before the Queen and Ireland’s biggest pop export Westlife on their 2007 ‘The Love Tour’ in support of their chart-topping album of the same name.
Today Francis is busy in the preliminary stages of his company 'From The Heart Productions', a labour of love which will allow him to produce, write, and run his own publishing company utilising all of his skills and experience, practical and learned, for both vintage and upcoming acts in the UK and abroad.
Whether vocal arranging, facilitating music workshops or touring the globe Francis continues to challenge norms and break ground with a gift that has seen him sought after for more than two decades in an industry infamous for being fickle and inconsistent. His church-inflected skill, charm and talent continue to make in-roads and unearth new ground in his efforts to remain at the top while keeping both feet firmly rooted to the ground.
Howard Francis runs the Heart Music Academy, and is also a founder member of the Heart Gospel Choir.