By Amy Sondova Mention the name Francesca Battistellli to anyone in the industry, and the response is usually same—“Man, that girl can sing!” Fusing the classic jazz vocal stylings with a modern pop edge, Francesca’s rich voice shines on her debut album, My Paper Heart (Fervent) which releases July 22. It is Backseat Writer’s pleasure to have Francesca “take five” with us!
How did growing up in a musical family influence your career as a singer/songwriter?
I can remember singing Nat King Cole songs with my dad at the age of 5 or 6, and wearing out soundtracks to obscure Broadway musicals all through middle and high school. I literally never listened to Top 40 radio until I was 15! My folks didn’t ever push music on me. In fact, I was more likely to become a ballerina than a musician back in those days, but I’m so glad my parents exposed me to great music growing up. It’s been such a blessing to have their wisdom and support through the years. They’ve been there in the trenches, so they get it.
The title track from your debut album, “My Paper Heart,” is a vulnerable lyrically with a funky edge to it–what is the story behind this song?
I wrote it with my producer Ian Eskelin and Tony Wood–the three of us also wrote the single together, “I’m Letting Go.” With “My Paper Heart” I wanted to write something about the fragility of the human heart. You know, all of us start out with a perfect paper Valentine heart, if you will. But through the years we get crumpled, written on, stepped on, and pieces of our hearts get torn off. Truly, our hearts are the most precious and vulnerable gifts we have to offer. Only God can redeem the junk that living in this world does to our hearts. That’s where the song started and what it’s really about.
How do you hope to inspire people, especially women, with your album?
I hope to inspire all sorts of people to get off their couches and make a difference in the world around them! I especially want to encourage women that they are incredible just the way they are (dents, rips, and all!) because of God’s love for and in them. We are stronger than we think we are, and it’s time we act on our faith and go after the things God puts in our hearts to do. I think everyone needs to hear that, but I especially have a heart to tell that to young women.
It seems like there is a general lack of female artists in the Christian music industry these days. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s partly due to how scary it is to tackle the music industry as a female. Even the Christian music industry is daunting. It’s still a business, and it requires a lot of guts to put yourself out there and try to make a go of it. I also think there’s just been an influx of male artists and bands, and gatekeepers are more comfortable with them because it’s what they know. But I think the tide is turning. Thank God for that! We need more strong, Godly women influencing the next generation. I’m so grateful for women like Natalie Grant, Jaime Jamgochian, and others who are out there making a difference. The more there are the better!
What was the last thing that made you laugh so hard you cried?
Oh dear, I’m going to embarrass myself. I just moved into a townhouse here in Nashville, and a few nights ago I went outside to water my grass. Well, the nozzle on the hose is kind of cheap, so it’s always spraying water, even if you don’t want it to. I turned on the hose and noticed that the water pressure was really low, so I went to take the kink out of the hose and ended up shooting about a half a gallon of water in my face in the process. I was about to meet some friends for dinner, and I was soaked! None of my neighbors saw me (I don’t think…), but I cracked myself up!