Episode 7 of the Mavens Do It Better Podcast features Seattle-based singer/songwriter Julia Francis and Cirke, a singer from Denmark newly transplanted to Seattle.
Listen in as Heather Newman talks with Julia and Cirke about:
Bringing people together with music on International Make Music Day
How they got into the music business
The importance of giving back and sharing their passion with others
MAKE MUSIC SEATTLE: Part of MAKE MUSIC DAY, a worldwide holiday held every Summer Solstice June 21 for 35+ years in 120 countries/800 cities.
Heather Newman: So, this is fun. We're outside, so you're going to get some wonderful noises, some joyful noises. I'm sitting here, this is Heather Newman with our maven podcast and we're in Columbia Park in Columbia City, Seattle and I just witnessed some beautiful, peaceful, wonderful, joyousness and I would love for you both to introduce yourselves and just talk about what just happened and why don't we start with you?
Cirke: Yeah. Hi, I'm Cirke and I'm from Denmark. Just putting it out there already so you guys know that there's going to be a very thick accent here. Yeah, I'm Cirke and I'm a singer and I just moved over here last year, and I just met this wonderful lady sitting next to me, Julia Francis and I'll let her introduce herself in a minute.
Heather Newman: You're posing for a picture.
Cirke: We're posing for pictures, yeah.
Heather Newman: Its National Selfie Day too.
Cirke: So, I just, I heard about Make Music Day in Seattle and I was like, yes, let's make some music because that's what bring people together, right? I'm here doing music with Julia and it was a huge success. We had people come out and sing along and yeah, so I, I can't remember what you asked me about, so I'm just, I'm just keep...
Heather Newman: It doesn't matter.
Cirke: Julia, why don't you say something?
Heather Newman: Julia introduce yourself please.
Julia Francis: Great. I am Julia Francis and I'm a Seattle based singer/songwriter. When I found out that today was International Make Music Day and there was a question about what would happen in Columbia City, I immediately thought that we needed to get children singing Give Peace a Chance to raise the vibration around our community and try to use music to really generate peace and goodwill among people of every age and every color and every flavor that you can imagine and just so grateful that Cirke and I got to really get hooked up for this event out of the blue and had the best time singing together and teaching harmonies and so satisfying listening to the crowd singing and listening to them use their voices.
Cirke: Yeah, definitely.
Heather Newman: So, Give Peace a Chance. We need a little bit of that all the time, but especially maybe right now. And you picked some other songs. Talk about what were your choices on some of the other stuff you picked?
Julia Francis: Sure. Candles in the Rain is a song by Melanie. She was a singer, songwriter is a singer songwriter, and in the early seventies after going to Woodstock, she was inspired to write the song Candles in the Rain and I've been obsessed with it since my friend Eray turned me onto it and really wanted to hear other people singing, you know, singing with me and with it. And then Cirke brought forward Imagine.
Cirke: Yeah, I just...
Heather Newman: Who wrote that again?
Cirke: John Lennon. Yeah. And um, yeah, I just love the lyrics in that song because all that it suggests for us to picture instead of how things are. I like that idea. Like just let's, let's turn everything upside down for a minute and just imagine how that would be. And I do that often and that's why I work a lot with kids. I'm a vocal coach and I help kids find their inner voice and sometimes we just do have to turn things upside down a little bit and the parents go, “Oh, she's totally doing...”, “Yeah, just give her a minute”, and then after that minutes you suddenly blossoms into this flower that she actually is. Right? So that's how I feel about, that's how I want to look at life. I want to sometimes just turn things around and imagine that this could be beautiful because there's ugly out there, but there is definitely also beauty and that's what I want to see.
Heather Newman: I just want to like, I don't know if you can hear it on the podcast, but all the people that came are still shaking shakers and continuing to sing. It's really lovely. You probably can't hear it on the podcast.
Julia Francis: They're shaking the shakers.
Cirke: They're singing, "I got the whole world...
Julia & Cirke: He's got the whole world in his hand.
Cirke: That's how it goes.
Heather Newman: And like starting with a song that most kids know too. Great way to sort of bring everybody in your, you know, your first song.
Julia Francis: Oh, This Little Light of Mine. Yeah. I taught that in my daughter's classroom in elementary school earlier this year and we were focusing on the Black History Month and I wanted to tell the story of Fannie Lou Hamer who was an activist and an organizer during the civil rights movement and she sang This Little Light of Mine in difficult moments when groups we're organizing, sometimes going actually into jail and resisting and she used that song to help people have confidence and overcome their fear in those moments. And thankfully most children know that song, so it's great
Heather Newman: It’s a great entry point, right?
Julia Francis: That's right.
Heather Newman: That's great. Yeah. That's so cool. And Julia, you and I've been friends with for a very long time and so you, I watched you with your career and music and all kinds of different things and your albums and you're playing all places. Where do you play kind of in here in the Seattle/Tacoma area?
Julia Francis: I've been playing a lot in Tacoma. I've been doing a lot of blues jams down there with a lot of really talented musicians and I've recently put together a band based, or comprised mostly of Tacoma musicians and yeah, we're just putting together a really, really tight blues, soul, funk, rock and roll thing. Starting to book around Seattle and Tacoma and everywhere in between.
Heather Newman: Awesome. And so you're a vocal teacher and coach and singer and piano player. Like how many instruments do you play?
Cirke: I only play the piano and I'm not a piano player, but I do play, and I sing. Singing has been my, yeah, my instrument for many years and I've been kind of. I used to say, I always say I am nerding it out still. I like to learn nerd skills and yeah,
Julia Francis: I like that. Nerding it out.
Cirke: Nerding it out. Yeah. I just know I was, I was sitting there on the floor when I was very young and listening to Mariah Carey and trying to figure out what the heck is she doing with how. And so, I know all kinds of stuff about how the tongue is placed in the mouth and how, you know, I just, I've noted so many things about singing techniques, so that's why I would like to give that
Heather Newman: You like to know all about it.
Cirke: Yes, and I'm giving that to the people I know. And, and right now I'm donating my time, because I'm still in a process of a changing status to become a permanent resident. So yeah, I'm donating my time where I can to the kids of the Live It Out Loud program in Tacoma by Ted Brown Music. I'm a vocal coach there and I mentor for a band and my best friend Jessica Lynn is the director. And so I just, I love that program and I wonder where I would have been today if I've had such a program when I was that age. Right? So that's why I want to give back. I want to give everything I've learned in my career to the kids and to the teens and teenagers out there and just, yeah, give and spread the love and...
Heather Newman: I mean music is our universal language, right? I mean, it brings us together in many ways.
Cirke: So yeah. And I have my. Oh, I should probably say I have my very first show over here, Fourth of July at the Angle Lake Park. Next to SEATAC. So, if anyone wants to come out, I'll be there at 2:00 PM.
Julia Francis: Fourth of July. I guess you really want to be an American citizen. Just going all out.
Cirke: I'm actually looking for like American flag colored clothes right now to wear.
Heather Newman: When did you start singing? How old were you?
Cirke: Oh, when I was five, probably. Probably before, but I didn't like dive in until I was 19. That's when I. Because I had nodes on my vocal chords, so I was horse all the time and my voice doctor said “No!” Fortunately was the word I was looking for. I met a good vocal coach and she taught me how to sing and I went to my doctor six months later and I was cured, and he was like, what did you do? And now they are working together, in Denmark. Yeah. So yeah, so that's why I was like, I want to give, I want to do this, I want to help people sing, healthy.
Heather Newman: Julia, how about you? When were you first singing?
Julia Francis: Singing in church choir with my mom and my grandmother. Yeah. And then by myself in the woods, whenever I could. It's safe in the woods by yourself with your voice always in Alaska where I grew up, that's what I would do and just make up songs and just grateful to be on this path of, you know, knowing that we all have a voice and that we all have a great deal of power that we can use our voices towards, and I want to do everything I can in my life to help other people use their voices to be who they are as fully and joyfully as possible because it sure brings me joy to make music with people like this beautiful Cirke right here.
Heather Newman: Yeah. I like talking to people about what makes them happy and bringing a little, spreading a little joy so everybody knows about who you are. That's awesome. You know, it's interesting. Julia and I have been to Copenhagen, and we've been together and we really enjoyed it. So, it's Mojo's Blues Bar? Right, right? Okay. So, we've been there and that was like just one of the like the dive-dive bars, you know, you can like scrape the walls. Like it's just so…
Julia Francis: Like somebody broke a glass when we were in there, like they were bleeding. Do you remember? It was a very dramatic.
Cirke: That is Mojo for you.
Heather Newman: But you know it just rocks, you come up and then you know, it's like that. I love that, when it's just musicians, it's like I need a horn player or whatever and somebody is like I got a horn. Okay. So, we had that wonderful experience of music and jazz house there.
Cirke: Yeah. Did you, did you go to Strigus to by any chance? It's an Irish pub.
Heather Newman: That sounds super familiar.
Cirke: Yes, because that's where we, like all the musicians kind of gathered. So, when we were done gigging around, we would end up there and have joined the house band and that, that was like that. Oh, we need a horn player, oh, … is here today, let's you know those, I like that small community.
Heather Newman: That's super fun. I saw that, I've seen that as well in New Orleans. They do that too, for sure. And in Austin, you know, I bet if we spent some time in Nashville it would be the same way, but any music city has got that sort of feel like, “Hey, come on, let's make a joyful noise”. So, that's cool. Awesome. So the original, was it the city of Seattle? Where did you make the connection for this day again? Where was that?
Julia Francis: Make Music Seattle is the name of the organization that really hosted and organized this. But it's a nationwide actually international day. So, both Make Music Seattle and Columbia City Music Beat were the primary organizations that helped us organize this gathering here in Columbia City.
Cirke: Yeah, and I got approached by Seattle Wave Radio owner, Linda and Mark Gordon. So that's, that's how I knew about it and they said, "Hey Cirke, this is something for you, isn't it?" It's like, yeah. And then Julia and I got paired up by coincidence. And what a good one.
Heather Newman: Serendipity always surprises. So that's great. Well, cool. Well, so one more time. Where can people find you Cirke the next time?
Cirke: Yes, you can find me on Facebook. So that would be Facebook and my name is CirkeDK in there. So, its C-I-R-K-E-D-K. There's my website, cirke.dk.
Heather Newman: Gotcha. Are you on Instagram or all that jazz?
Cirke: I am actually just cirkedk on Instagram too. Okay, there you go. And Twitter too.
Heather Newman: Very good in the social media marketing. Everything the same-same. Give me a little high-five. Good job.
Julia Francis: Oh, Maven approved!
Heather Newman: Julia Francis, where can people find you?
Julia Francis: Well you can find me at my website at JuliaFrancis.com. You can find me on my Facebook page, my Instagram account @Juliafrancis.pix. And I have two CDs that are out on iTunes and Spotify and all the places that you can buy and stream music online.
Heather Newman: Yeah. One of my favorite things these days is to say, “Alexa, play Julia Francis.”
Julia Francis: Oh, I love when you do that!
Heather Newman: And it does. It's like, that's my best friend, it's like "Nineteen eighty...", oh makes me so happy. So yeah, that's pretty cool. So, if you have an Alexa totally do that, so good.
Cirke: And hey also try this. Or say "Alexa, play a country tune” and then she will actually start singing. Or, he, dude like singing a county tune. We tried that with my friend.
Heather Newman: I like asking "Alexa, what is love?" or “Tell me a joke.” Those are pretty good too. But the best is, "Alexa play Julia Francis." Well, should we round out the end of this with a little Give Peace A Chance singing?
Julia Francis: Sure.
Heather Newman: Yeah, let's do it. A little acapella action?
Cirke: Let's do it. You start it out Julia.
Julia Francis: All we are saying
All: Is give peace a chance. All we are saying is give peace a chance.
Heather Newman: And that's all we're saying. Give peace a chance. Ladies. What a joy. Thank you so much.
Cirke: Thank you.
Julia Francis: Peace out Heather Newman. Thank you very much.
Heather Newman: You're welcome. Peace everybody.
Julia Francis: Peace.