|From the CD "Jesus Told Me I Can Fly"||
Brooklyn, New York-born and raised, Francine Bell, started singing at the age of 5. Significantly influenced by years of singing in church, she later joined the High School of Music and Art (part of New York’s School of Performing Arts, the inspiration for the film and television series “Fame”) where she studied voice. To sharpen her skills, she joined the Actors’ Music Workshop in New York. In 1980, with $52 and a one-way airline ticket in hand, she set out to discover a new life, language and culture: destination, Paris, France.
Within a month of her arrival, she was hired as a resident singer at “Le Chevalier du Temple”. To enrich her performance, Francine studied French at L’Université de la Sorbonne in Paris. During the opening season of Paris’ exclusive “Champagne Club”, Francine was spotted by Jacques Martin (France’s equivalent to Ray Martin) and was invited to appear on “Thé Dansant”, a leading French weekly television show. She recorded a successful self-titled album as a result of her popularity on the show. Francine also starred for six weeks in ‘Grand Hotel” at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club.
A visit to Australia prompted another change of address. Francine’s popularity grew in Australia with regular guest appearances on the Midday Show with Ray Martin and Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton. She has appeared in the company of the cream of Australian performers such as Vanessa Amarosi, Batchelor Girl, Human Nature, Doc Neeson, Tom Burlinson, Rick Price, Julie Anthony, James Morrison, Don Burrows, Galapagos Duck, Tommy Tycho, Dame Joan Sutherland, Simon Gallagher, Rhonda Burchmore, Deborah Byrne, Normie Rowe, Judith Durham, Tony Barber, Geraldine Turner, Steve Vizard, Marina Prior, Tommy Emmanuel, Barry Crocker, John Paul Young, Slim Dusty, Geoff Bullock, Jeannie Little, Frankie J. Holden, Jackie Love, Maree Johnson, Cameron Daddo, Little Patti, Sandy Scott, John Foreman, and Kamahl.
Since her arrival in Australia, Francine has starred in theatre, films, television, commercials, corporate videos and functions, music clips and voice-overs for Australia and the overseas market. She co-starred in the award-winning musical “NINE” with Nancye Hayes and Caroline Gillmer and played the female lead in the children’s Opera for Expo ’88 “New Horizons” opposite former South Australian Premiere, the late Don Dunstan, Doug Parkinson, and Rick Price. Television performances include guest roles in “Mission: Impossible”, “The Paper Man”, a mini-series for the ABC with Peta Toppano, and a mini-series based on “Jaws” author Peter Benchley’s book, “The Beast”. Francine recently guest starred on the hot new series “All Saints” with Georgie Parker.
A consummate Gospel singer/songwriter, Francine toured around the churches of France in her own show singing Negro Spirituals. In Australia, she has continued her work in this area performing Negro Spirituals at The Sydney Opera House, The Newcastle Entertainment Centre and performed in and co-hosted the inaugural Australian Gospel Music Awards with Glenn A. Baker at Homebush Stadium. Francine has made several appearances on “Turn Around Australia” with The Rev. Dr. Gordon Moyes. She was a featured artist in this years’ inaugural Australian Gospel Music Festival in Toowoomba, Queensland. She has toured the United States singing Gospel music and appeared as compere and special guest artist in a Gospel Music Centenary celebration on Norfolk Island.
Francine has recently returned from a sell-out success in New Caledonia where she was the featured artist in “Oh Happy Day”, a celebration of Gospel music at Noumea’s famed F.O.L. Francine released her first solo Gospel recording entitled “Jesus Told Me I Can Fly” which was launched in America and Canada in mid 2000. Her appearance singing Jazz Gospel (August 1999) accompanied by Jazz Serenade featuring world renowned Jazz trumpeter Tom Baker at The Newcastle Jazz Festival was said to be “... an artistic triumph” by the organisers.
A former international fashion model, Francine has compered a host of functions including fashion parades with the ex-Miss Australia/Miss World, Belinda Green. She was also featured as Fashion Editor on the Nine network's show “This Morning”. Francine has appeared in numerous “Carols by Candlelight” productions around Australia, notably five consecutive years in “An Australian Christmas at Darling Harbour”. She also performed in “The Premier’s Christmas Concert” with Tommy Tycho and The Sydney International Orchestra at The Sydney Entertainment Centre with Anthony Warlow. She was Co-Producer, Casting Director, compere and special guest artist for “Carols by Candlelight” at The Sydney Adventist Hospital for two years running and released her first Australian CD, “Together for Christmas".
Francine was also a News Presenter for the Qantas International In-flight Entertainment Program for a year and Entertainer/Ambassador for American Express International in Australia and overseas. She has also worked for charity organisations such as World Vision, ADRA, The Autistic Society, Hope for the Children Foundation, and The Wesley Mission. Francine is a Consultant for The Talent Development Project, funded by the NSW Department of Education and NSW Ministry for the Arts supporting the growth of Australia’s future “Stars” (The group Human Nature and Country singer Felicity are products of TDP). The University of Newcastle Conservatorium of Music recently honoured Francine when they invited her to join their teaching staff. Francine is the first Contemporary Singing Teacher in the history of the University of Newcastle Conservatorium. She offers her experience in the areas of one-on-one vocal tuition and lectures in Contemporary Performance and Presentation.
Francine Bell opens her heart to give the full power of African-American Gospel, Variety, and Jazz music. She takes you on a musical excursion from the streets of her native New York through to the cabarets of Europe. There is an unmistakable and compelling quality to her performance.