Vocalist Francine Reed can't remember a time when she didn't sing. In her youth, the Chicago-born, Phoenix-raised song stylist sang in church and in grammar school.
She began singing professionally with her family when she was five and continued into her teens. She got married young and had four children, whom she ended up raising alone. She worked a variety of day jobs and kept her singing career an avocation until 1985, when some friends introduced her to Lyle Lovett. Lovett was interested in finding a female vocalist for his new band and found his singer in Reed. She toured with Lovett for ten years as a member of Lovett's Large Band, and did several TV performances with the Texas singer/songwriter. While her association with Lovett continues, she has embarked on the kind of solo career she always wanted when working the day jobs to support her family.
To date, Reed has recorded two albums for the Atlanta-based Ichiban label in 1995 and 1996. Her amphitheater performances with Lovett must have surely had an effect on sales of both of her records. Reed also got a few other nice breaks, including the chance to do some singing for TV commercials. Tom Cruise cranks her album up in a scene from the 1993 movie The Firm.
Reed's two albums for Ichiban include I Want You to Love Me (1995) and Can't Make It on My Own (1996). The former features a duet with bandleader Lovett, while the latter includes a duet with Delbert McClinton. On both albums, Reed continues the tradition already set down by great women soul-blues vocalists like Carla Thomas, Irma Thomas, and Etta James; she returned in 1999 with Shades of Blue on the Intersound label. In 2001 following the demise of Ichiban Records, which left her first two records out of print and unavailable, Reed and longtime collaborator Marvin Taylor re-recorded some of her best material live in the studio and released the results as I Got a Right!...To Some of My Best. The record business being as unpredictable as it is, Ichiban was resurrected in 2002 and released American Roots: Blues, a compilation of her first two records. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi