Frenchie Davis performs as Mahalia Jackson in "Mahalia," a Gospel musical by Tom Stolz, in 2007.
Photo by Richard Termine Enlarge
ST. LOUIS -- It seems only natural that Frenchie Davis would be a staple at gay pride events across the country.
"I make my rounds," says Davis, a semifinalist from the Season 1 of The Voice.
"The gay community is my most loyal fan base. Whenever an opportunity presents itself, I jump at it."
While she was a student at Howard University in Washington, her closest friends were lesbian, bisexual, gay, or transgender, including her favorite professor.
He took Davis to the local drag clubs, and one night she was allowed to sing. She was a hit, the only "natural-born girl" in the house and the only one not lip-synching.
She became a staple there. Years later, while in Rent on Broadway with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy personality Jai Rodriguez, she took over his cabaret act in the largely gay neighborhood of Chelsea.
There's also something else going on with Davis. She's been dating a woman for the past year.
"I wasn't out before the relationship, but I wasn't in," she says. "I dated men and women, though lesbians weren't feeling the bisexual thing. Now I'm in love with a woman I think I can be with forever."
Her career is looking equally on track.
The theater veteran, who has toured with Dreamgirls and Ain't Misbehavin', is about to drop a new single, "Love's Got a Hold on Me."
The song is firmly rooted in the dance vein, which is the direction of most of the music on her upcoming debut album. She recently shot a video directed by Ch'an Andre and Brian Friedman.
The album may come as a surprise to those who see a plus-size African-American gal with a big voice and expect R&B or gospel.
"We have enough of that," Davis says. "I'm going to throw in a power ballad and sing all the way out, but it's definitely going to be dance. I've experimented with a lot of things, and this is where I should be."
It was The Voice that helped Davis realize what sort of singer she should be. She says shows like The Voice and American Idol are great for exposure.
But they can be difficult because contestants are singing others' music and not always forming their own identities. (Davis was dismissed from Season 2 of Idol because of a controversy over topless photos.)
"I owe The Voice for figuring out what my sound is," says Davis, who scored on the show with David Guetta's "When Love Takes Over."
"Christina [Aguilera] had me singing dance pop. That's something I initially would not have chosen, but it took off."
Though Davis looked like a surefire finalist on The Voice, she's at peace over losing to Beverly McClellan.
"America loves Beverly, and I can't be mad at them for that," Davis says.
"She can sing. Everything happens for a reason. I made a lot of great friends, and I got to sing my heart out in front of the world."
After doing Idol, Davis never thought she'd do another TV singing contest. But a casting director for The Voice approached her after a West Hollywood performance and roped her in.
"My initial reaction was I'm so not trying to relive that again," she says.
"But I'm a very spiritual person, and sometimes you gotta walk the path God lays in front of you, even if it sounds crazy."