David Francey on the Road to Recovery
By Terra Spencer
It is serendipitous to welcome my dear friend and mentor, internationally-acclaimed folk singer/songwriter David Francey to Deep Roots Music Festival in Wolfville this year, highlighting the healing power of music. For the past two years, David has been on his own journey of healing after reckoning with years of wear and tear on his primary instrument: his unmistakable voice.
David Francey is a storyteller at heart. On stage, his lyric-driven songs are punctuated with anecdotes and sharp wit. His songwriting hearkens back to his days working in construction: songs so sturdy and sure that anyone can sing them, but never better than when they are rendered in his own distinctive voice, with Scottish hints preserved from his childhood.
I’ve been an avid fan of David’s music since the moment that rich voice on CBC Radio stopped me mid-pancake flip in my kitchen. Since then, I’ve seen David perform many times in Nova Scotia. I was ecstatic in 2017 when my impassioned campaign to bring him to the Kempt Shore Acoustic Festival was finally successful. That weekend, it became apparent that David was struggling with his voice; the festival would be his penultimate performance before an indefinite hiatus from singing to rest and rehabilitate. I don’t know what prompted David to strike up a chat with me as I scooped ice cream at Kempt Shore. I’d managed great feats of awkwardness in previous attempts to express my admiration at his concerts, but this time our friendship was instant and easy, and his long-distance guidance has proved invaluable in my attempts at songwriting.
I was daunted and delighted in 2018 when David asked if I would organize the Nova Scotia kick-off of his national art tour. David is an accomplished painter, rendering landscape scenes on canvas with the same deft clarity and restraint that is a hallmark of his writing. Art promoter and friend Tony Girardin suggested that David tour across Canada with his artwork in lieu of a concert tour, in hopes of allowing his voice to recover. The project not only provided a way to promote David’s recently released record, The Broken Heart Of Everything, but also served as a welcome distraction from the anxiety and frustration of his uncertain vocal prognosis, as did the bouzouki, an unusual stringed instrument David received from close friend and musical accompanist
Craig Werth. Co-writing opportunities and engagements leading songwriting workshops also encouraged David to maintain his musical muscles in spite of not being able to sing.
Two years later, David’s voice is on the mend, along with the confidence to return to his devoted audiences far and wide. David has already been welcomed with exuberance by those who have witnessed his cautious re-entry into live performance. He is quick to give credit to his artistic outlets and the steadfast support of family and friends for keeping his spirits afloat during his recovery. As a fan, I can personally attest to the good medicine of David’s music, which has been a wellspring of comfort and contemplation. I count him as one of the greatest inspirations in my own recent adventures in songwriting. And I imagine there will be a full house of folks at Deep Roots with their own reasons to celebrate David’s return to the stage, along with the songs that have beautifully conveyed so many aspects of the human experience over the past two decades. I am overjoyed to join David with an incredible roster of artists bearing witness to the medicine of music. See you there!