New York, Anita Franco, Alison Stewart discussed on All of It


Alison Stewart. We are. So happy to have singer songwriter and activists Franco back on our show on was on our very first show our debut. She will go down and all of it history. And now on his written her very first book her memoir, no walls, and the recurring dream is being released today. It tells a deeply personal story of growth and empowerment that is recognizable across generations from childhood in buffalo brilliant. But restless mother two times with homelessness to working as a caterer to making her way in the music business that hadn't really seen someone like her before founding her own record label righteous, babe. Records on E. Welcome back Elsa. Nice to be. I'm so happy to see you. Yeah. Last time was like your show birthday. It wasn't. Excellent meeting every. So interesting why right now why right now, I don't know. It's trying to well. You know what? Truthfully. Trying to stay home. Got a couple of kids at home. My traveling job was weighing heavily on the family systems. So yeah. China devise new ways of making art in the world that don't necessitate driving around constantly. Yeah. Your kids. I think our sons our children the same age, and you get to that point where you're just kind kinda need to be around. Yeah. Even if I to be in their space, I need to be in your face, more toda-. Yeah. And you don't even realize, you know, I mean the past bunch of years, I would only be on the road say two out of twelve months, which was way scaled back touring from back in the day. But even that amount away now that I've shifted even more radically, and I'm just been home for the last six months, for instance. Last tour. I did was September. It really makes a difference in the level of trust, insecurity that your kids can feel you know. Yeah. How did you write? How did you find time giving because when you get home your salary demands? Yeah. There's the. Yeah. The catch twenty twos. They come and find you no matter how ingenious you think you'd being. Yeah. That was a trick. You know? I mean, they are both in school during the day. So when they were in school when they're asleep behind their back. Yeah. When your book go go all the way back to your childhood. And there's just this great. You have such a great description of your mom, I'm gonna I'm gonna read it because she sounds like she was really a head of her time you write about her. She was part of another loss generation of feminists who slipped through the cracks of history became victims of their own the beret Shen, she was free to overperform her way into the professional workplace, but she still had to shoulder the bulk of the parenting and housekeeping duties because no one would conceive of anything different. She martyred herself my mother and then one day a rage. She quit should venture to quit all of us in leave her dream house behind, but those stickers were stuck there on the front door for many years. After the words completely faded away in the weather, and she was long gone. It's a sad pair of it. Also shows great deal admiration for exactly as an adult. Do you understand what she was going through? Now. I do I mean, I think I understood it at the time those stickers that are in that paragraph. My ma. Mom, I came home from school, and she had stuck on the front door of the house. These premises are no longer under the supervision of the housewife system. And then she detailed all the stuff. She would no longer be doing. And yes, she was the main breadwinner in addition to all of the rest, and yeah, it's just over well-meant. I think women are still buying large in that position. You know, you begin to see very recently the paradigm shift opening up where men are actually participating more in the domestic sphere. Its we're beginning to conceive of the idea that men can do that hard work too. And that, you know, the woman can be active agent in society and the man can hold down the fort. That's the model in my family. But you know, not only is it as hard as the traditional reverse situation. It's hard to swim up the cultural stream, I think, you know, there's of course, endless. Support an affirmation for the traditional model, and none for flipping the script, you know? So it's still we're all still a little stuck in the patriarchal systems. Are we not and women? You know, it's it's like the same. You know, so many generations have to sacrifice themselves to getting out from under these cloaks of of patriarchy and racism, and you know, hetero sexism, and you know, so many of us have to lay our bodies on the tracks. When you were young did, you did you feel new sense of responsibility. When your mom left. Yeah. Well, it was my job the cook. Suddenly and. Yeah. It was it was a big push towards some self sufficiency and taking over a lot of the work in the house. And yeah that was useful. Because soon enough I'd be on my own. And you know, that's those sort of skills came in handy a such so different from now, I have a twelve year old daughter, and she can barely wipe around. But you know, I mean, I don't know. I can't understand how in one generation this dynamic shifted so hard core. My guess is defranco's. Her new memoir is no walls, and the recurring dream you write about your dad as well, endurance another. Hallmark of my father's life. His family miss denied him. His wife would never return. His children would continue to struggle in realms beyond his control. What impacted your dad struggle have on you and also sort of your drive? Well, you know, I think I got really my drive from my mother, you know, and I really have embodied her energy. And you know, where do you get your energy everybody always asks me and the short answers mom, you know, I just I she taught me her stick. And I you know, I made it my own and. It. It took me a lot more decades to really let my father come out of me because he's a very gentle, very, quiet. He was. Extremely gentle passive spirit, really. But a he was the bearer of unconditional love. And so, you know, his ingredients in the end are even more essential. Hi, thanks to my happiness, and my continuing evolution. But my mother's character and force of nature, you know, just dominated for all the years that we were actually together. And now, it's like, I more and more in touch with my father's influence and his guiding light. You started performing very young. And in the book, you make a distinction between you're playing and you're singing. Yeah. That the plane came early, but sort of the the voice your voice came later. How? So when did it really start to come out? Yeah. I mean, I guess there's a bit of a safety with expressing yourself with your hands. You know, there's a level of of of vicariousness or removal. Right. So but to open up my face and express myself with my voice was not funny because we're talking about my mother and her empowered, you know, strong feminist journey, and, but I was raised and she's like, she was raised to not say it, you know, you just you take it on you feel it you deal with it internally and externally smile, and here's your sweet nice girl or else, you know, Arale society just won't they will recoil from even honesty or you making room for yourself. You know, and that was my experience when I first started using my voice, and I I think just naturally took me a lot longer. The the way was further to get to. I don't know. This is how I really sound. This is really my voice freeing itself from my body. I think in the early years of me singing, there's a kind of an urgency almost shrill nece to the to a voice that so desperate to come out. You know, it had that sound it took many years for me to just be able to speak and sing. And you know, because there I had made enough room to do that in your Italy from buffalo, and you right? But you read a lot about your time not too far from here. Living in the meatpacking district sort of trying to make your way of those times. Do you do you call them fondly? I mean, it was a different New York then. Well, certainly, I mean, I love New York. I miss the old New York. Even though you know, I mean, I only go back my tenure in this city was what eighty nine to ninety seven or so. And you know, it's even since then lot of change, you know, it's hard to let go the parts you love as as we stay on the planet. But and yeah, those years were incredibly dynamic, you know, your was really interesting. Indeed, I tried to tip my hat to that. You know, the sort of the the the sort of volatile mix of it all, you know, the immigrants and the artists and the freaks and the queers, and the, you know, the the the street gardens and the chickens running around and just the little dose of anarchy in it all that. I just adored I can remember coming home from work at like five o'clock in the morning down nine th avenue by sixteenth street, which now Chelsea market an apple store and there were sex work. Workers up and down and all kinds of shapes sizes gender identified down ninth avenue. It was cool. It was cool. It was just like, oh, this is what New York is. Yeah. At what point I guess is Anita Franco, we're talking about her new memoir, no walls, and the recurring dream at. What point was there? One wasn't one. But what made you realize I have to start my own record label. Well, I just you know, I mean when I was eighteen I made a tape as many musicians right now are doing all around us local musicians playing gigs trying to get their thing going. It's not rocket science to make a cassette is what I made that, you know, eighty eighty nine, and, you know, I guess the first thing I did was scribble on it righteous records. It was before the baby got added in there. And then you know, it was just sort of my thumbing my nose at the idea of needing record company. And then I just kind of went with that. You know, I made another recording humbly borrowing little money going into a friend of a friend's, you know, recording directly to debt tape, and and then another and then another, and then I really started to question. I mean for me was always about getting the next gig. And if I had a tape to sell at the gig, even better that's another sandwich. You know? So. I found I was on a sustainable journey early on. And because I was so enamored of just that immediate moment of connecting with people through music performing. I guess basically the sort of the pie in the sky of the record deal in the fame and fortune didn't draw me a strongly as it does. Some you know, because I was filling that deep need in me every night without a middle. And one of the things that you did in in your in your use affects fascinating reaction as you. Learn the power of image when you shave your head at how people reacted to one what was in your mind when you said, I'm just gonna cut all my hair off. And then describe how people reacted to you..

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