Fran Pitre Has Nothing To Fear
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Fran Pitre Has Nothing To Fear

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With her third album, Nothing To Fear, out on streaming media outlets, Fran Pitre has nothing to fear every time she takes the stage.

As a young woman living in the Washington, DC area, Fran Pitre worked in advertising design and was a singer in an alternative rock band. Fran had dreams of performing on the biggest stages with the biggest bands and living the dream of a typical rock star. When her first pregnancy sidelined those dreams, Fran knew putting her music career on hold was imminent, but that was okay. She had twins and shifted her focus to family and happily continued her path down the road to a satisfying home life.

Fran singing with The Haigs during the 90s.

Never totally abandoning her musical aspirations, Fran settled in and ultimately found herself pregnant again a few years later, and once again, happily accepted whatever God had in store for her. What she didn’t expect however, was another set of twins! Although family came first, music resonated within her soul and somewhere in the back of her mind she knew music was still sure to be a part of her life again someday.

Fran Pitre with her second set of twins!

When her third (and final) pregnancy arrived the biggest surprise was that she was about to welcome yet a third set of twins into the family. That alone should be a story fit for a best selling book (oh, wait, it is, but more on that later…), but raising a loving family with husband, Bruce, became even more solidified as the family’s main focus.

Fran and Bruce on their wedding Day and again now!

Whether Fran was humming her favorite tunes throughout her busy days, singing in the shower, or sitting on the deck with a glass of wine and reliving what had become those fleeting moments of rock stardom in her mind, the pull of the stage continued to linger somewhere in her subconscious and life went on. As the kids grew, and careers continued, Bruce and Fran found themselves relocating the family to Florida ultimately settling down on the First Coast.

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Well, if you’re reading this and you DIDN’T know that North Florida has one of the best, tightest knit, most unique music communities in the country, you do now, and so landing in Jacksonville couldn’t have been more perfect for the Pitre family, both to finish raising their kids and to become a part of the music family so often raved about. With weekly Blues events like Sunday Sessions, the Tuesday Night Blues Club and The Blues Cafe, Fran and Bruce found themselves going out with friends occasionally and enjoying local Blues jams and slowly becoming part of the great music family that was also building.

With good friend Robin Painter-Campbell at one of Fran’s shows.

Without really giving it conscious thought, the desire to get back on the stage was slowly creeping from the back of Fran’s mind to the front and then one day she mentioned it to her friend, Robin Campbell, and together they worked out a way for Fran to make a comeback. Part of that included bringing Broadway singer and good friend, Frank Shiner down to Jacksonville from New York and sharing the stage with her in her first attempt at performing live in front of a crowd again. Frank had invited Fran to join him on stage in New York a time or two at storied venues like The Iridium and The Cutting Room on Broadway, so now Fran was inviting Shiner to join her as she set up her first show back into the music scene..

Fran (far left) on stage with Frank Shiner at the Iridium in New York City

With North Florida being home to so many former and current touring and recording artists, finding quality musicians for a band would not be a problem, finding musicians who weren’t already too busy to find time to rehearse and do a gig might be a different story though. In the end, Pitre was joined on stage by friend, composer and keyboardist Kenny Levine, bass player Tommy Gilstrap (Al Green), drummer Sammy Buonocore Sr (Artimus Pyle Band), trumpeter Marcus Parsley (JJ Grey & Mofro), guitarist Johnny “The Claw” Piantadosi, and saxophonist Skyler Nolan. It was billed as a Night Of Blue Eyed Soul and indeed it was truly a night to remember. A standing room only crowd converged on Whiskey Jax Kitchen & Cocktails in Baymeadows and Fran finally realized her long put on hold dream of making a triumphant comeback into the world of music.

A Night Of Blue Eyed Soul at Whiskey Jax Kitchen & Cocktails. From left: Kenny Levine, Sammy Buonocore, Sr., Tommy Gilstrap, Skyler Nolan, Johnny Piantadosi, Fran, Will Hurley, Frank Shiner and Marcus Parsley.

After the Night Of Blue Eyed Soul show Fran recalled, “After that night I instinctively knew that there wasn’t any going back now! Singing with Frank, performing with that amazing cast of musicians and seeing my newly forming ‘Fran Club’ out in the audience gave me a feeling unlike any other ever, and it was just pure magic!” Kenny Levine was thrilled to play a part in Fran’s comeback as well. Since then Fran has produced two albums with a third set for release in May, all of which Levine has played a major role in.

Fran with friend and composer Kenny Levine.

“In the beginning Fran was sort of feeling her way through after being away for so long,” Levine told First Coast Life. “She’s a fast learner and she knows what she wants musically. Over the past three albums that we’ve done together, what’s good about her is she takes my suggestions and my producing to heart. She knows how long I’ve been in the business and she is a consummate professional and knows what she wants so it’s been a great fit. I mean, her singing has gotten better and her writing has gotten better and each album has been better than the previous one and this third album is just fantastic.”

Cover art for Nothing To Fear, Pitre’s third album.

Since that first night back in July of 2018 Fran has formed her own band, Fran Pitre & Class Act, and has been performing all over the First Coast. Between writing music, being a mom and running her own business, Pitre has been busier than ever, but giving back to the community is always important to Fran no matter how busy she stays. In 2023 with her list of original music growing stronger and stronger, she decided to do a benefit concert to raise funds for two charities that are near and dear to her heart. “One of the songs on my second album is called Nice To Meet You so we decided to call the concert Nice To Meet You and we set a goal to play mostly my original music.” she said. “The two hour show went off extremely well and we raised a good amount of money with half of it going to my son’s band at Sandalwood High School and the other half to Women’s Help Center, which is a woman’s pregnancy crisis center here in Jacksonville.” Fran’s music has been played all over the world and her popularity on the First Coast as a musician has grown, but something that isn’t as well known about her is that her three pregnancies have resulted in three separate sets of twins!

Twins Times Three available on Amazon.com

Before returning to the music world Pitre published a book titled Twins Times Three and now she has turned that novel into an audio book that includes her experiences as a mother as well as a documentation of her music career while juggling family life as well as her business responsibilities. Another well known musician, Jeff Ganz, formerly of The Johnny Winter Band has been a big help in that endeavor and Fran has been thrilled to get to perform with Ganz as well. “In addition to her vocal prowess,” Ganz said, “ Fran Pitre’s dedication to details is an important component of her past, present, and future success in anything she attempts, musically and otherwise!” 

Jeff Ganz with Fran at a gig in Jacksonville, Florida.

With so much going on in Fran Pitre’s life it’s remarkable how well she handles all of these responsibilities, but throw in that her music has been nominated for the Josie Music Awards the past two years in a row now (with entries into this years considerations) you’d expect that when the Josies announce the nominations you’d find some controlled chaos creeping into her life. The Josie Music Awards is the largest independent music award organization and is based out of Nashville, Tennessee. “It’s of course a major honor to see my music nominated for these independent music awards, but what’s most important is the pure joy of this amazing journey, and the love and support I’ve received along the way. I couldn’t be more grateful. My family is so supportive…” Fran said. “I mean my husband is not only my number one music fan, he is my number one roadie as well! He loads me in to all of my gigs, then loads me out and supports me in everything I do. My kids are the same. When I did the Nice To Meet You show at Mudville Grille my kids even got up and sang backup with me.

“Theres nothing like the feeling of having your kids join you on stage to sing a little back up!”

I couldn’t be more blessed with all the support I have and that even includes our Jacksonville music family. Music creates bonds that transcend everyday problems, bringing people together from different backgrounds who all have one thing in common, a love of music.” With the Josie Awards held in Nashville every October Fran has attended the past two years and if nominated for a third consecutive year she will find herself, along with husband Bruce, back at the Grand Ole Opry with her fingers crossed when they announce the winners of the categories she is included in. Bruce told us, “From the day she said she wanted to get back into the music scene, I have seen her passion and vision grow into something more amazing than simply singing. She surprised me when she shared her first lyrics! Writing songs I thought, wow!  I am truly amazed and proud of the beautiful and moving songs she helps create and works hard to release for all to enjoy. The journey is getting better each day. It’s truly phenomenal to see more and more fans following and supporting her!”

Fran with her number one fan, boss roadie and loving husband, Bruce Pitre!

With the Josie Music Awards now in its tenth year, Fran Pitre has a total of five submissions in the running for nominations. One is her third album, Nothing To Fear, with four singles in a variety of genres. In regards to the total experience, Fran told us, “It’s been absolutely amazing being nominated and attending the awards shows. It’s so professionally done, complete with red carpet and red carpet treatment and I am eternally honored to be nominated. They say once you’re nominated you are part of the Josie family forever and I’m grateful to be included!” As far as awards go in general, Fran was adamant that win or lose, an equal share of credit would always go to the amazing cast of musicians that back her up, but performing in front of the fans that love her music is the driving force behind what she loves about being on stage.

Nice To Meet You benefit concert at Mudville Music Room.

As far as the future goes, only time will tell what is in store for Fran Pitre and Class Act, but don’t be surprised to see her take her act on the road and perform on bigger stages around the world. And when that happens you can bet her “Fran Club” will be rooting for her, her family will be forever supportive and her husband will be forced to relinquish his roadie duties to the professionals who make it all happen!

For more information on Fran Pitre and Fran Pitre & Class Act go to Facebook by clicking the links, or www.franpitresings.com on the web.

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3 Responses

  1. Excellent piece here, Mike!! Very enjoyable read. Fran, who I affectionately refer to as “Bubbles,” is determined and hardworking and I’ve been privileged to play on all three of her albums!

    1. Thank you, Johnny, for your awesome words and for all your musical contributions that have helped make our original music as good as it is! The privilege is truly mine.
      ~~~ Bubbles

  2. Thank you Michael Kaufmann and First Coast Life magazine for our interview, and for taking the time to write and post this article. It was fun talking with you, and I appreciate your featuring my story.

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