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:: Spotlight :: Interview with Italian star Franky

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Recently, Melbourne staged La Dolce Italia, a grand gala event where net proceeds go to the Alannah & Madeline Foundation. It was a night to remember where the event was graced by the legendary Italian star Sophia Loren.

One of the other Italian visitors was recording artist Franky (aka Francesca Giaccari). Franky has already had a very interesting career in her young life and has a new ten-track self-titled album out now. She also stars in the film Ameluk, which had screenings during the La Dolce Italia weekend. For the gala event, Franky teamed up with local performer Teresa Vee to sing the event's theme song. The song was written by Italian journalist Ivano Ercole and Australian singer/songwriter/musician John St. Peeters and produced by DJ Mark Pellegrini & KP Group.

It was a great pleasure to meet the beautiful Franky and spend some time for a lively chat about her interesting life so far.

Maria Francesca Giaccari (Franky) comes from a town called Galatina, in the Italian province of Lecce in Apulia region. Franky recalled, “It was there that I started to sing and write a lot of poetry in my teenage years. I started to play guitar and sing my poetry when I was eighteen years old. I then moved to Rome and stayed there for eight years. I did lots of singing with a group and performing solo - touring right around Italy.”

Q. Did your family support your career decision?

A. It was mixed emotions for my family. My mother did not accept what I was doing. She was keen for me to study. But I wanted to express myself in music and poetry. I needed to prove it to myself, and that's how I wanted to live my life at that stage. I was a model at age fourteen so my father accompanied me everywhere then. Now the whole family is very supportive.

In 2011 Franky participated on the Italian TV program: “Big Brother”. Then later in 2011 she made her recording debut. In 2012, she changed her look and style, and used her alter ego: “Miss Maria”. Where Francesca was shy, Miss Maria was her opposite.

In July 2013 Franky starred in her first movie. Directed by Mimmo Mancini, Ameluk is a movie which tells the story of a young Jordanian who struggles to fit into a traditional community of Southern Italy. It tackles the social problems of immigration in Italy in a satirical and dramatic way. Franky played the role of Rita, a Jewish girl in love with Ameluk, the protagonist of the movie who is Muslim. The love between Rita and Ameluk challenges the cultural restrictions of the two religions.

Q. How important for you was having this role in Ameluk?

A. Well, it is one of the most important things I've done. Ameluk has a great message for the audience as it talks about the relationship between different cultures. I play a Jewish girl and the film shows how the cultures are able to mix. We have to follow God's message of assimilating cultures and living as one frontier. I was thankful to be part of this film and this message. We hope that it is captured around the world as much as possible. As human beings we have to open our hearts to understand these people.

Q. Are you keen to make more movies, or stay with your music and poetry?

A. I am not an actress. I am a singer-songwriter, but I wouldn't say no to an opportunity like that. It was a great experience for me and I worked with lovely people. The director gave me the opportunity to put my character into the film.

Q. I understand you spend a great deal of time in Sydney last year to work on your music…

A. Yes, I lived one year in Sydney to work on my music. I also worked on a farm. Australia has given me the opportunity to recognise myself - who I am. Now I have been able to go back and give myself to Italy. As you know, they have had trouble in Italy - economically and socially. I want to help change our minds and our lives. Italy can hopefully change. With my music and attitude, I want to do my little bit to change the country's attitude. I enjoyed my time in Australia. I “found” myself. I also found my manager, and I was generally able to create better things for myself. I am hoping to spend more time in Australia, and to come to Melbourne because I like it.

Q. As for the music, probably my favourite track of yours is “Don't You Wait For Me”, which also brings a gorgeous video. The song has you collaborating with Billy Lofton, a well-respected R&B and gospel singer who has worked with many big names…

A. Thank you for liking this song. Billy is the cousin of the great Aretha Franklin and to meet him changed my life. My management (Snap Music Management) have been long time friends with Billy and introduced him to me. Billy and his co-writer Jeremy Bishops wrote that song as a favour for the management to help promote me in Australia. We did several versions of the song and remixed it also.

Franky assisted Billy in teaching him the Italian & Spanish components, and thereby being allowed to claim a 33.35 royalty in the song. View the English/Italian version video here

Franky featured on Italian television as a contestant in Miss Italia and also starred in Big Brother. About Big Brother, Franky explained, "This was an opportunity that my record label, Sony Music, wanted me to do in order to help promote my music. It has become hard to promote music in Italy so that's why there are these shows like Big Brother, The Voice and X-Factor. Singers look for other ways to promote music independently without the backing of record companies.

Q. Has it made you a stronger person?

A. Yes, I am very proud of what I have able to do, especially being in Australia during the last twelve months. I have more belief in what I can achieve. By going back to Italy I want to help give these opportunities to other artists. People need an ambition. I like to follow my dreams. That's why I write a lot of music and poetry.

Franky has been one to change her look occasionally. She performed songs under the name “Miss Maria” - with a black wig. She stated that she likes to change. We need to follow our changes. A metaphor she loves is “Give me a mask and I will give you the truth”.

Q. What other artists have you admired?

A. Being a lover of blues music, I have always admired Janis Joplin. I'm very interested in singer-songwriters and like different types. Janis Joplin stands out for me in many ways. I also like Lady Gaga, Alannah Myles, Gianna Nannini and Vasco Rossi. Music hasn't changed for the better in the 1990s and 2000s but Lady Gaga has tried to make a difference. When I lived in Rome I loved listening to heavy rock/metal - such as Guns 'n Roses, Led Zeppelin and Motley Crue. Again, because I liked to change styles.

Q. You are studying to be a naturopath…

A. Yes, I am studying naturopathy in Italy. I always use natural products. I want to use my knowledge and pass on the benefits to Italian people. We need to stay healthy - physically and mentally. First of all in your mind, otherwise it does not work. So, I am studying to gain more knowledge in this area.

Q. What have you got planned for the future?

A. I want to help my country and create harmony. I want to release more music and poetry. I also want to give people the chance to listen to me.

Thanks to La Dolce Italia promoters and Snap Music Management for providing this opportunity.

"Franky" album is available through this outlet:
Snap Music Management

Here's Franky performing at La Dolce Italia.

Also Billy Lofton is the cousin of Aretha Franklin NOT Grandson.

It was Snap Music that has invested much time & money into creating the Franky Branding, yet none of this is ever mentioned.