Everyone is talking today about Stacy Francis, the 42-year-old single mother who wowed the judges on The X-Factor last night with her passionate rendition of Aretha Franklin‘s Natural Woman. And rightfully so! She did a great job (even if she was flat at times). However, after doing a bit of research on her, I found out the show was somewhat misleading in presenting her as a struggling single mother who sings only after her kids go to sleep at night. Stacy Francis has already had quite a bit of success in the music business, getting signed to a major label in the nineties and starring in several Broadway and West End (as in, London’s Broadway) musical theater productions. She has yet to attain mega-fame, it’s true, but she’s hardly in danger of dying, as she said last night, “with this music in me.”
In the early nineties, Francis was part of an R&B group called Ex-Girlfriend that was signed to Reprise Records. They put out two albums before disbanding in 1994; their biggest hit was “X Marks The Spot,” which performed well on both the R&B and Billboard Hot 100 singles charts. Since then, Stacy has worked frequently as a singer and actress, appearing in Broadway, West End, and regional theater productions, as well as various movies and TV shows. She booked her first Broadway show in 1997. As recently as a few years ago, she could be seen performing the Jennifer Hudson role in San Diego Musical Theatre‘s production of Dreamgirls.
Additionally, Francis is involved with the Church of Scientology and seems to have made some connections through that. Here’s a video of her performing at Tom Cruise‘s birthday party three years ago:
Discussing Stacy’s recent divorce and current appearance on The X-Factor, members of a messageboard for ex-Scientologists speculated that Scientology played a role in her divorce. (We know it’s recent because she and her husband were still married when their first son was born.) “Looks like her marriage ended, and I cant help but wonder if that is due to the church. I dont think her husband the dentist was all that into Scientology,” writes one person. It wouldn’t be the first marriage Scientology has broken up. Another person admits that Scientology may have helped Stacy gain confidence: “When you think you are an immortal spiritual being with super powers who can bend time and space with your postulates it does give you confidence. And that delusion is probably most helpful for a performer.”
None of this should discredit Stacy’s performance in the competition. If anything, the fact that someone could find steady work as a performer for so many years and still never break through to major label success shows just how hard it is to chase that dream. It also shows that she’s a person who takes initiative and goes after the things she wants, rather than some cowering abused woman held hostage for a decade by her baby daddy, a woman who just happened to miraculously find the strength to enter a singing competition at age 42, at which point an enormous voice came out of her as if by magic. But I guess it pulls on people’s heartstrings more to stick to the imaginary narrative?
On that token, I find it somewhat irresponsible how the show played on stereotypes about black unwed mothers; she refers to her ex-husband as “someone she met” and makes it sound like she’s raising her kids completely on her own. In reality, the man she was married to until recently runs a thriving dental practice and appears to be engaged with his children, at least in this Youtube video of him I found:
Again, he may very well have been a shitty husband who told her she’d never succeed in the music business, but why make it sound worse than it is? I think it does a disservice to Stacy Francis to distort and manipulate her life story in this way when the real story is plenty compelling on its own.