Jenna Esposito Sings Connie Francis has been a work-in-process since summer, 2008. I was at Jim Caruso's Cast Party at Birdland (a weekly open mic featuring all kinds of terrifically talented performers!) and decided to give "Where The Boys Are" a whirl when it was my turn to sing. Now, I'd grown up listening to 50s and 60s pop music, and Connie Francis had been known to me since I was a little girl, but beyond "Where The Boys Are," "Stupid Cupid" and "Who's Sorry Now," I didn't really know much else. So, here I was at this open mic, and after I finished singing "Where The Boys Are," four or five different people stopped me to tell me how well the song suited me, and each of these people asked if I'd ever given consideration to doing a show devoted to Connie Francis. At that point, I hadn't given the idea any thought, but after those four or five different people spoke to me and they all had the same suggestion, I thought that just maybe the idea had some merit!
So, I slowly started doing my research: I ordered a couple of greatest hits albums, and a box set with 120 Connie Francis songs, and found myself really getting into the music and thinking, "Yes!! This would be a great project for me to work on!" And THEN...well, then I read Connie's autobiography, "Who's Sorry Now," and I was deeply moved. That's right around the time I went from being a fan of Connie Francis the singer, to being a fan of Connie Francis the person. I was simply blown away by her courage, her passion, and her indomitable spirit. I absolutely fell in love with Connie and I have to say, I've never been quite the same since.
I dove into my work on the show with a new gusto, and I've become obsessed with obtaining vintage Connie Francis sheet music and recordings. I've joined a terrific fan group, where members swap favorite Connie stories and share hints about where to find recordings and videos.
I've been fortunate enough to see Connie perform in concert twice, and the experience was simply overwhelming! The first time I saw her was this past April, when she was performing at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ. Now, I'm not much of a crier, but from the moment she walked out on stage, I was pretty much a blubbering mess! It was very emotional for me - after all of the research I'd done, she was just this huge presence in my mind, and I was awestruck being able to see her from the third row of the orchestra as she sang all of the songs I'd come to love hearing her voice on, and telling the stories I'd memorized from her autobiography, plus some stories I didn't know!
After the concert, she was signing autographs in the lobby (and God bless her, at 70 years old, after performing an incredible 2-hour show, she stayed and signed an autograph for every last person who wanted one!), and my Dad and I waited patiently with the Connie Francis t-shirt he'd bought me. When we finally got up to Connie, she signed my t-shirt for me ("Hi Jenna...Love, Connie") and I gave her a letter I'd written, explaining who I am and about the tribute I was putting together. Well, about three weeks later, I was shopping in the Staples on 57th and 6th in Manhattan, when I saw an unfamiliar number coming into my cell phone. I let it go to voicemail, and had the shock of my life when I picked up the voicemail a few minutes later and heard, "Hi Jenna, this is Connie Francis." WHAT?!!! I think I emitted some kind of high-pitched squeal, not caring what any of the other Staples customers thought, and I immediately called her back! We had a very nice conversation, short and sweet, in which Connie thanked me for my sweet letter and wished me well. So, yes...now, among MY souvenirs, I have a voicemail from Connie Francis - which I will treasure for the rest of my life!
I had the time of my life performing Jenna Esposito Sings Connie Francis at the Metropolitan Room in NYC in June and July, 2009, and am thrilled to have a live recording of the show, which is set for a November 3, 2009, release date. The CD will be available through CD Baby and iTunes within a few months of the actual release date, and anyone wishing to order a copy right away will have the ability to do so through my website.
This project has truly been a labor of love, and I would like to thank those that have been a part of it from the inception through the present: My fantastic director, Lennie Watts; my wonderful musical director/arranger, Fortune Esposito; all of the terrific musicians who have worked on the show: Fortune Esposito, David Crone, Brian DeWitt, Brian Broelmann, Rob Broelmann, Michael Blanco, Skip Ward, Kelly Esposito-Broelmann, and Rob Langeder; my publicist and friend Dan Fortune; my voice teacher, Shirley Callaway; John & Deb Botti, Eileen Exiner, and the rest of the Middletown gang who helped give this show its legs; the four or five people who stopped me on that fateful night at Birdland and suggested I do a Connie Francis show; my amazing family: Mom, Dad, my sister Kelly and my brother-in-law Rob, my sweet nephew CHARLIE, and all of the rest; my talented graphic designer, Hector Coris; my hardworking webmaster, Dimitri Moderbacher, and last, but most certainly not least, the incomparable Connie Francis, who has been the most incredible inspiration I could have ever hoped for.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about the history of this project. If you'd like to be kept up-to-date on the latest news about it, please be sure to sign up for my mailing list and/or check the "news" page regularly!
Thanks for visiting - please enjoy the rest of the site!
All the best,