A Conversation With Francine Honey
Douglas McLean chats with Francis Honey for his podcast 'Backstage' here on The Sound Cafe, and airing this week on Blues & Roots Radio. Francine Honey writes songs that cut right through to the heart with an authentic, plain spoken, hard won truth that will invite you to spend your day listening over and over to her stories and personal insights. In a long, fun, and joyful conversation, Francine takes us down the roads she’s travelled in the making of her newest album “I Carry On”.
You can listen to the entire interview and music HERE
Hard-luck stories can have happy endings. Especially in Francine Honey's world. With a mission of helping people get through life with music, Honey offers “real” music that is described as a mixed tape of Americana, Alt-Country, Singer-Songwriter, Folk, and Blues. Some sass mixed in with a unique voice as sweet as Honey but most of all, Honey tells stories in her songs, and she has a lot of stories to tell!
Her own journey through life's changes has been years in the making. Although she's been making music since childhood, Honey never dreamed of making it a career. Instead, she studied mathematics and computer science, got married, had kids, and worked as a project manager in the Canadian Federal Government. Her life seemed perfect. Then a near-simultaneous breakup and job loss forced her to relocate, find a new career and raise a family alone. Music went on the back burner; she never stopped writing, but songs went unfinished. “I finally realized I had stories to share, and there was still an opportunity for me to turn my musical hobby into my profession.”
So, she left her full-time job in 2013 to pursue music full-time under her maiden name Francine Leclair. Along the way, the down-to-earth artist has displayed extraordinary dedication to her craft. She self-produced her 2008 debut album An Ordinary Woman in her living room. It was followed in 2014 by Re-Drawn, produced by Lang Bliss in Nashville. In 2015, she re-recorded many of her early songs for the EP An Ordinary Woman (In Studio) with Mark Plancke of SharkTank Productions in Windsor, ON. Honey took a few years to work on her craft, studying, exploring, and chasing her sound.
In 2018, she began working with Grammy-nominated producer Neilson Hubbard in Nashville, TN. Honey recorded her full-length album to be continued… live off the floor in six days. to be continued… has received critical acclaim internationally, and her song “Stay” was a top 10 finalist in the 2018 International Songwriting Competition in two categories. Honey’s songwriting was recognized from more than 19,000+ entries around the world, receiving semi-finalist nominations in both the Americana and Blues categories. In addition, “Stay” was a semi-finalist in the 2018 Canadian Songwriting Competition (Folk/Singer/Songwriter). The Austin Songwriting Group in Texas awarded her first-place honours in the Country category for “Stay” and first place in the Singer-Songwriter category for “Can’t Break Through to You” in April 2020, along with five other song placements. The song and video “Snowflakes On My Eyelashes” which features mentor and friend Beth Nielsen Chapman (“This Kiss”) garnered over 1.8 million views and its accompanying video was a finalist in the UK Songwriting Contest.
As a bilingual artist, Honey released the single “Chez mon oncle Lucien” in Mar 2019. This song received regular radio play on various Sirius XM French Country stations as well as internationally. Honey’s other French releases include “Floçons de neiges sur mes cils” in Jan 2019 with radio airplay on CBC Radio-Canada and “Je vis sans limites”, the French version of the song “I Soldier On” released on the Re-Drawn album in support of the Soldier On fund in 2014. This song continues to be sought out for Remembrance Day ceremonies in schools.
Honey released the album Take Me to the North Pole in 2019 featuring 2 original songs along with re-imagined Christmas classics with a Country-Americana southern swagger. This album made Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 50 Christmas Albums of the year.
This was followed by 6 singles from newly released full-length album I Carry On, starting with
“Red Sky” late in 2019. When the pandemic hit the world in March of 2020, Honey jumped onto the internet with a weekly livestream “Honey In Your Coffee” all while continuing to record and release music and videos internationally.
Honey released a song of gratitude to all essential workers entitled “I Carry On” (May 2020) with a music video dedicated to them. This song has reached over 1.8 million people and has received radio airplay. It was a semi-finalist in both the International Songwriting Contest and the UK Songwriting Competition.
October 2020 saw the release of an A and B side single double single release with “2020 Vision” and “Can’t Press Reset”. Honey had recorded the importance of 2020 in Nashville in January 2020 with “2020 Vision”. This was followed by a call-to-action song in “Can’t Press Reset” so it made sense to release them together. “Can’t Press Reset” made it to #5 in the Canadian Indie Country Countdown and was a finalist in the 2020 Blues and Roots Radio International Songwriting Competition. In January 2021 with more lockdowns on the horizon and the world missing their families, Honey released another single “I’m Coming Home” which also reached #5 on the Canadian Indie Country Countdown (CICC) along with international radio airplay. Her single “Lightning” (July 2021) is a hot, steamy, haunting piano ballad chronicling the electricity of a kiss that changed her life and hit #1 in Canada in October on the CICC and #16 on the CICC chart for the entire year 2021. All these singles except for “Lightning” form part of Honey’s newly release full-length album I Carry On.
With 12 tracks consisting of a mix of 5 new songs and previously released singles; I Carry On has already received international recognition and touched many of Honey’s fans worldwide. “This album set out to make itself” Honey says. Most albums Honey has recorded to date have been intentional pieces of work recorded in sessions in Nashville lasting a week or two. The songs that find themselves on I Carry On are a compilation of songs recorded individually over the years that found their way together into a cohesive journey through the ups and downs of life celebrating the resilience of the human spirit. “We have all gone through our own individual experiences, however, we have all experienced similar emotions... grief, loss, hope, tragedy, fear, loneliness, togetherness, gratitude, anger, reaching out, reaching within, holding onto each other, dreaming of the future and celebration. A roller coaster ride on the rails of resilience that is necessary to keep going and to carry on. This collection of songs is an experience through the journey of resilience and hope for those that listen from beginning to end.”, says Honey of her fifth album I Carry On. At the beginning of 2022, I Carry On received a nomination for the Faces Magazine Ottawa 2021 Album of the Year.
So far in 2022, Honey has released 2 singles from the LP I Carry On. The single “Hold On” released in March 2022 from the album was a finalist for the 4th Annual Blues and Roots Radio International Songwriting Competition and garnered Honey the cover on Record World International Magazine. “Hold On” was written with Canadian psychiatrist and researcher Dr. Paul Wong. This song started off as a theme song for a conference to highlight the resilience of the human spirit. Honey loved the song so much that she made a few changes and released the song along with an inspirational music video.
In January, Honey has released “Hunker Down”, penned with collaborator Dan Washburn who also lends his vocals on the track as a single from the newly released LP I Carry On along with a fun, playful video. Honey produces and co-directs high quality music videos as extensions of each song. As Honey explains “When I write a song, I imagine the movie that is playing for these 3 and half minutes and eventually it becomes its own movie in a video”.
Honey’s music continues to receive critical acclaim and sees airplay on CBC, Radio-Canada, BBC, AM800, CTV, SiriusXM, Folk Roots Radio, and more across Canada, the US, UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia, and the Netherlands. With over 20k+ fans from all corners of the world, she performs on-line with her series “Honey In Your Coffee” and has been streaming almost every live venue performance for over 5 years.
Along the way, the down-to-earth artist has displayed extraordinary dedication to her craft. As a graduate of the Berklee College of Music Professional Singer-Songwriter Certificate Program’, Honey regularly makes the nine-hour drive from Ontario, Canada, to song-writing retreats in Nashville and overseas, where she has been mentored by Nashville icons like Beth Nielsen Chapman (“This Kiss”), Mike Reid (“I Can't Make You Love Me”), Grammy-nominated songwriter and author Mary Gauthier (“Rifles and Rosary Beads”), Verlon Thompson (Boats to Build), Gretchen Peters (Independence Day) and Jonatha Brooke (Put the Gun Down). In April, she was invited to a retreat in Austin, Texas with Nashville writers Lee Starr and Russell Sutton (“My Boy”). She is a member of the Songwriter's Association of Canada (SAC), Nashville Songwriter's Association International, Canadian Country Music Association, Americana Music Association, and founded and co-ordinated the SAC’s Leamington & Windsor Regional Writer's Group for 8 years and continues to mentor other songwriters.
Honey has showcased at the Texas Songwriters Symposium four years in a row, NSAI Tin Pan North Festival, Hugh’s Room, the WinterFolk Blues and Roots Festival in Toronto, the Kingsville Folk Music Festival, and the Folk Music Ontario conference. Her music and songwriting have not only taken her through Canada and the U.S but to the U.K., Switzerland, and Italy.
Honey continues to write and co-write with other writers in Nashville and Austin aiming to have her music recorded by fellow artists and licensed for film and TV. "But really, I just want to keep going, writing and producing better songs. I'm finally a songwriter and I know I'll do this the rest of my life.”
One Big Party
I'm Coming Home
Let The Wind
I Carry On
You can listen to the entire interview and music HERE