Working alternately with a sweeping orchestra and intimate jazz ensemble, Franchesca’s crystalline voice ranges from gentle and graceful to powerful and soaring, hitting all the right emotional notes these timeless songs deserve. The twelve songs chosen are a mix of trademark hits (“Only You,” “The Great Pretender” “You’ve Got (The Magic Touch),” “My Prayer,” “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”) and rarely heard album cuts Franchesca personally selected for the recording, including “It Isn’t Right,” “The Mystery of You,” “Only Because,” “Wish It Were Me,” “I Wish,” “No Power on Earth” and “For the First Time.”
It was on April 26, 1955 when The Platters recorded “Only You,” their first #1 hit, at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, where everyone from the elder Cole, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand to Dean Martin and The Beach Boys have done sides. Fifty-six years later, in mid-2011, Franchesca brought to Capitol a thirty-five piece orchestra under the direction of composer/conductor Danny Ursetti to record the first seven tracks, including “Only You,” “My Prayer,” “For The First Time,” “It Isn’t Right,” “Only Because,” “Wish It Were Me” and “I Wish”—all newly arranged by Roy Phillippe. She later returned to record the final five (“Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” “You’ve Got (The Magic Touch),” “No Power On Earth,” “The Great Pretender” and “The Mystery of You”) with a jazz-oriented quintet featuring Gene Cipriano (tenor sax), Jim Cox (piano), George Doering (guitar), Chuck Berghoffer (bass) and Peter Erskine (drums). The quintet was arranged and conducted under the direction of Tim Simonec. All of the sessions were co-produced by veteran engineer Dan Wallin, a two time Academy Award winning film score mixer.
Franchesca’s unprecedented familiarity with these songs began at a very young age. She remembers watching her father—whose powerful baritone voice played a huge role in creating The Platters’ unique vocal sound—as he performed for adoring audiences throughout the world. “The notes and melodies I heard are so embedded in my heart,” she says. After the original group disbanded in the early 60’s, Paul Robi continued to tour for many years, performing The Platters’ music. A year after Paul Robi passed away at age 57 on February 1, 1989, The Platters were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Franchesca then became a featured vocalist with the group. After watching her father perform for so many years, she was a natural fit and began traveling with The Platters and performing their music all over the world, including Finland, Italy, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, China, Turkey, Germany, and even a special performance in Monte Carlo for Prince Albert at the famous Formula One race. She also performed with the Boston Symphony (directed by the late Marvin Hamlisch) and at the Kennedy Center in New York for former Vice President Dan Quayle.
With the encouragement of the album’s co-executive producers Martha Robi, Franchesca’s mother, along with Angela Rose White of DaBet Music Services, Franchesca felt it was the right time in her life to create a recording in tribute to her father, fulfilling a lifelong dream. “The key to making it successful was staying true to the melodies, harmonies and feel of the original songs,” she says. “On a project like this, the big hits are a given, of course, and for the others, I chose songs I felt I could relate and bring my life experience to.” “My mom was in tears the whole time watching me sing in the studio,” she adds, “and I think it was because my vocals came out just as my dad would have sung them. I was inspired being in the studio with so many wonderful musicians and when I was in the vocal booth, I could envision my father onstage performing the whole time – almost like he was singing through me. These songs are wonderful to sing and I believe they endure for the simple reason that the melodies and words are so beautiful. They bring back memories for older fans and show younger ones the way songs used to be written, with so much meaning and heart. "Remembering The Platters – Songs of My Father" is simply my way of honoring my father’s memory by keeping The Platters music alive. I look forward to sharing these songs with those who already love The Platters music, as well as new fans who will learn to love them, too.”
Over fifty years after her father Paul and his musical cohorts became one of early rock and roll’s seminal vocal groups, Franchesca Robi brings fresh emotional urgency to the beautifully performed and imaginatively produced and arranged collection "Remembering The Platters – Songs of My Father" -- a labor of love tribute to the legacy of her father, and a celebration of a cherished era in music when every pop song was beautiful, singable and meaningful!
To access music, video and further information visit www.franchescarobi.com
The collection is currently available on iTunes.