To Kansas City with Love
by C.L. Frederick
“American Idol” alum and Broadway star Frenchie Davis will be making an eagerly anticipated appearance at Kansas City Pride this year. She will undoubtedly bring an electric set that the community won’t soon forget. The show is an important one for Davis, who sees it as an opportunity to pay tribute to the LGBT community nearly one year after the Orlando tragedy at Pulse Nightclub.
As a contestant on “American Idol,” Davis had numerous unforgettable experiences. Dearest to her heart were the friendships she built with her cast mates. “Ruben, Clay, Kimberly Locke, Trenyce. It’s amazing that after all these years we are all still close friends, supporting and loving each other. I am tremendously thankful for those lifelong friendships,” Davis said.
Being on “Idol” certainly changed her life. The show turned an unknown artist into an instant celebrity. It opened doors for her that once were closed and it gave her valuable exposure.
“One minute I was a college student struggling to pay her utility bills and literally a week later millions of people had seen me on their TV. It was a fast adjustment,” Davis said.
Davis has numerous musical influences that include powerhouse performers like Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Freddy Mercury.
“They made me want to sing! They made me want to master it,” she said.
Asking her to pick her favorite song to sing live, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.
“That’s like asking me to pick my favorite wave in the ocean,” Davis quipped.
Insanely successful Broadway star is another hyphen in her burgeoning resume. “Rent,” “Dreamgirls,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” and “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” are a few stage credits under her belt.
“Every show I have been in has significance and meaning for different reasons. They all are my favorite,” Davis said.
She is currently performing in the show “The View Upstairs.” It is near and dear to her heart and it’s such an important story. “It’s about the upstairs lounge fire that happened in New Orleans in 1973. It was the biggest attack on the LGBT community up until Orlando,” she said. “I am filled with such a tremendous amount of pride to be telling this story and to be honoring the memories of the brothers and sisters we lost.”
Having starred in “Rent” on Broadway was an important experience for Davis and left a lasting impact on her as a performer.
“It was my first Broadway show and like ‘The View Upstairs,’ it tells stories of people who are often forgotten and there’s power in that. It’s something that young people can take inspiration and encouragement from,” Davis said.
“Rent” is also another artistic experience, like “Idol,” in which she made lifelong friends.
Gay Pride is a celebration of the LGBT experience. Over the past year these celebrations have taken on a greater meaning for many within the community. From the Orlando tragedy to the uncertainty facing the LGBT community under the Trump administration, there is much concern to be had. Davis sees Gay Pride as “a celebration of being outspoken and unapologetic. It represents acceptance and ownership of who and what we are as LGBT and queer people. I feel like every year with every Pride celebration we set that closet on fire in our own small way. We perpetuate the notion that it’s OK to be who you are, own who you are, refuse to apologize for who and what you are.”
Davis is eager to perform at Kansas City Pride and she looks forward to sharing her talent.
“I’m looking forward to partying with my people! I always love to sing. I always love to be on stage, but when I get to do it for my own community it’s extra special,” Davis said.
Davis also has big plans for her future. She is in the process of finishing her master’s degree and is forging ahead on plans to teach and mentor LGBT youth.
“I will continue to do theater and continue to sing my heart out,” she said. “My long-term goal is to leave my mark on this world that makes it just a little bit better than it was before I got here.”
Davis offers advice to anyone with the hope of following their dreams. “Be prepared for those dark days. Be prepared to hear no more than you will hear yes and in your preparation for these things, trust and believe that it is all a part of your destiny and it is all a part of a greater plan.”
She concludes with one last pearl of wisdom: “When you pray for the rain, you got to be prepared to walk through some mud. By that I mean that dreams do come true, but you have to be prepared to climb over some hurdles, fall down, and pick yourself back up. Believe in your ability to accomplish great things.”
Frenchie Davis performs at 6 p.m. Sunday, June 4 at Berkley Riverfront Park on Tito’s Vodka Main Stage. Tickets can be purchased at gaypridekc.org.