Internationally award-winning Canadian singer/songwriter Francine Honey has her sights set on the holiday season with this, her newest album release, Take Me To The North Pole — available now!
“Life can be so busy around the holidays!” Honey says of the season and the release. “We are all running around trying to get it all done to make it the best ever.
“As a kid and a parent, watching the Christmas classics always allowed me to find a pleasant escape into the world of Santa and the North Pole. It is a welcome relief from all of the hub-bub of the holidays… I love being taken to the North Pole into that land.”
“For the song ‘Take Me To The North Pole,’ we purposely chose a southern, swampy shuffle you can dance around the kitchen to while making your Christmas cookies, and bop to while driving to go shopping. “, says Honey.
“How does Mrs. Claus do it all? Look in the mirror!”
With eight songs — both original and Honey’s Americana spin on classics — Take Me To The North Pole doesn’t stop at the title track to showcase the Ontario artist’s long-held soft spot for the season.
To sing Verlon Thompson’s original holiday song “My Heart Is There With You” has been on Honey’s own holiday wish list, so to speak, for some time now. That she was able to include it on the album feels like a gift all its own, she says.
“When I was at a songwriting workshop in Italy with Verlon last year, he was talking about the power of a song. He played ‘My Heart Is There With You,’ which he wrote at Christmas time as a Christmas card for his friends, and talked about the impact it had on his friends and how that song had been made into a commercial.
“When he played it, I immediately felt tears running down my cheek,” she continues, “because of its honesty, and how I feel about my family and friends who you don’t get to see over the holidays and at other times.
“When it came time to record Take Me To The North Pole, I asked Verlon if he would play guitar on this album… But I was too shy to ask him to record the song.
“Eventually I shared my shyness and my love of the song there in the studio as I was about to record another song, and he said he would be honoured if I would record it! So right then and there, I learned the rest of the song and we recorded it together. It’s that recording that is here on the album. “
“What an honour and a wonderful Christmas card for those that you cannot spend time with over the holidays.”
On that note, and penned with Honey’s delicate sagaciousness that suffuses her songwriting, original tune “Christmas Round My Tree” is a bittersweet ode to those feeling grief or loneliness during the most social time of the year.
“When I was in my teens, I would go to nursing homes and sing Christmas carols for the elderly,” Honey recalls of her inspiration behind the tune. “My heart always sank when I would see some of them there with no family.“
“Some of them would ask me to just sit with them and spend time with them, and we would sing some carols, play cards and then drink hot chocolate.“
“As I got older and saw my own family members deal with their first Christmas alone after a loved one passing away, I witnessed the determination to still find a sense of the Christmas tradition and the knowledge that what truly matters is being together and not the gifts you buy.”
Although she’s made music since childhood — “I wrote my first song in 1976” — Honey never dreamed of making it a career. However, along the way, the down-to-earth artist has displayed extraordinary dedication to her craft.
Francine’s debut self-produced album An Ordinary Woman came out in 2008 and was followed in 2014 by Re-Drawn, produced by Lang Bliss in Nashville; her EP entitled An Ordinary Woman (In Studio) was released in 2015.
As a graduate of the Berklee College of Music Professional Singer-Songwriter Certificate Program, Francine regularly makes the nine-hour drive from Ontario, Canada, to song-writing workshops in Nashville where she has been mentored by icons like Beth Nielsen Chapman (who contributes backup vocals to Honey’s “Snowflakes On My Eyelashes”), Mike Reid (“I Can’t Make You Love Me”), Mary Gauthier (“Mercy Now”), Verlon Thompson (“Boats to Build”), Gretchen Peters (“Independence Day”) and Jonatha Brooke (“My Mother has 4 Noses”). Francine is a member of the Songwriter’s Association of Canada (SAC), Nashville Songwriter’s Association International, Canadian Country Music Association and Americana Music Association. She co-ordinates the SAC’s Leamington/Windsor Regional Writer’s Group, mentoring other songwriters. She has showcased at the Texas Songwriters Symposium four years in a row, NSAI Tin Pan North Festival, Hugh’s Room, the WinterFolk Blues and Roots Festival in Toronto, the Kingsville Folk Music Festival and the Folk Music Ontario conference. Francine’s music and songwriting have not only taken her through Canada and the U.S but to the U.K., Switzerland and Italy.
Her 2018 full-length album to be continued… received critical-acclaim and a finalist in the 2018 International Songwriting Competition in two categories for her song “Stay.” Honey was also recognized for her songwriting contribution from more than 19,000+ entries around the world, receiving semi-finalist nominations in both the Americana and Blues categories.
2019 saw Honey release a few singles starting with “Flocons de neige sur mes cils,” the French counterpart of “Snowflakes On My Eyelashes.” This was followed by “Chez mon oncle Lucien,” a song written around the Hangman’s Reel that her Grandmother used to play on her violin. A traditional French Canadian song which chronicles the memories of doing maple syrup at her Uncle’s farm in Eastern Ontario.
Her latest single “Red Sky” was released in October 2019, and is a gritty and dreamy flight through change.
Honey’s music has received critical acclaim and sees airplay on CBC, Radio-Canada, AM800, CTV, SiriusXM, Folk Roots Radio, and more across Canada, the US, UK, Germany, Australia and the Netherlands. Her over 20k+ fans online are very happy she left her government career to pursue music full-time. She performs regularly on-line and streams every venue performance. Her belief that music gets you through life and her commitment to helping people feel less alone by sharing life through song connects people across the world to support each other. Her campaign last year to touch those suffering with grief through the holidays with her song and video “Snowflakes On My Eyelashes” and the French counterpart garnered over 1.5 million views, but most importantly connected people grieving from all over the world; it’s no wonder that the video for “Snowflakes On My Eyelashes” is a finalist in the UK Songwriting Contest.
Francine Honey’s Take Me To The North Pole is available now.