Frank Senior is a jazz singer with an incredible gift. Frank’s uniqueness, sensitivity, and incredible aural and vocal talents have helped him to gain an enviable reputation on the Jazz scene in New York City. Working everywhere from small clubs to concert halls, Frank infuses elements of classic blues, gospel and soul music into a straight-ahead jazz repertoire as he channels the greats, like Nat “King” Cole and Ray Charles.
A review in the Raleigh/Durham News & Observer describes Frank this way: “With a voice at times similar to Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and bluesman Johnny Adams, Senior, blind from birth, swings naturally and tells a lyric story without forcing it. He is certain that his blindness — he has been without sight since birth — has only enhanced his musical (and all other) senses, and has made him into a soulful story teller and accomplished vocalist.”
Senior’s blindness makes him stand-out in the crowd, creating a unique distinction among scores of nameless artists. Mostly all blind musicians in New York have the protective armor of an instrument between them and the audience. However, Frank communicates directly with the crowd. Everyone knows him, and just about everyone loves him.
Frank has worked with legendary Jazz artists including: Frank Owens, Valerie Capers, Earl May, Barry Harris, Harold Maybern, Saul Rubin, James Weidman, Kenny Baron, Harry Whitaker, George Coleman, Harold Ousley, Jane Monheit, and many more.
He has sung at Birdland, the Universal Jazz Center, the United Nations, Gracie Mansion, St. Peter’s Church, Bryant Park, Sweetwater’s, the Blue Note, Fat Cat, and Smalls to name a handful of his performance venues. His festival credits include Jazz Festival Morocco and Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Born and raised in the Lincoln Projects in Harlem, Frank attended the High School of Music and Art, LaVelle School for the Blind, and New York University as a voice major. Early in his professional singing career, a heartbreaking turn of events caused Frank to take a fourteen-year hiatus from music. At one of his first major concerts, Frank’s father suffered a massive heart attack as he entered the concert hall and died soon after. Taking time off to heal from that blow and to care for his young family, Frank returned to music in 2000 and released his debut LP, Let Me Be Frank, in 2007.
The album was subsequently picked up by Smalls Records as Listening in the Dark. Without any promotion or marketing, Frank Senior completely sold out his small production run of 1,500 copies of Let Me Be Frank. His second album will be released in Fall of 2015 and features renowned pianist John DiMartino, and Seamus Blake, the saxophonist from David Letterman’s band.
Also slated for Fall 2015, Senior will record several tunes on the upcoming album “Big Band Bassoon – A Tribute to the Great Swing Bands.” He has been featured on a number of recordings. He is a guest vocalist on Jacob Melchior’s It’s About Time, Jamhunters: Music Speaks Louder Than Words, and crossover classical bassoonist Daniel Smith’s Smokin’ Hot Bassoon Blues.
Frank Senior has experience in front of the camera, as well as behind a microphone, and is open to developing this area of his career. Frank has been the subject of several documentaries, including the multiple award-winning Sound of Vision, and the upcoming New York After Dark. He earned his SAF/AFTRA card for the film Turk 182. And most recently, Frank starred in a ComCast Xfinity instructional video. He will also be a featured actor on ABC’s prime time hidden-camera show, “What Would You Do?”
He received a coveted award from the National Endowment for the Arts and recently won second place in the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival’s “Jazz Voice” Competition. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the VISIONS Bronx Advisory Board, and the Jamaica Development Corporation Appreciation Award.
As one review in the Jazz Times describes, “Senior has learned from the best, and comes away with a sound all his own that is at once tender and tough, vulnerable and impermeable.” Frank’s easy persona, distinctive singing and speaking voice, and experience make him a unique and welcome character on the New York Jazz scene as well as on camera.