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Fran Raya is a female singer/songwriter from Manchester, England.  She has written hundreds of songs and has a huge catalogue of work in many styles of music.  She has also written a novel in three parts, numerous short stories and has had poetry published in 15 anthologies with United Press under the pen name of 'Frances Rochelle Barrie'.

She began her career back in the 1970's and was initially known as 'Frankie'.  She was signed to the Domino label and recorded a lot of her work at Strawberry Studios in Stockport.  She had a single released called 'Road of Destiny' which charted in Spain and Italy.  Her work was also recorded by Frank Chacksfield and his orchestra, specifically a piece called 'Sign Of Love'.  She gigged unplugged around many university circuits, both in London and Manchester and performed in concerts over a period of time at the Free Trade Hall, the former home of The Halle Orchestra.

Further down the line she began to record at Indigo Studios with recording engineer Bob Auger who produced quite a few of her songs.  Her manager was Rod Taylor who went on to become a top TV Producer.  He arranged for Brian Fitzgerald, together with The Northern Dance Orchestra to arrange and play on her single 'Where Is The Feeling'.  This nearly resulted in a recording contract with Page One Records but negotiations fell through at the last minute.

She changed her stage name to 'Fran Barrie' and her husband Robert became her Manager.  She carried on composing feverishly and her agent Joan Davy arranged for her to meet Harvey Lisberg.  He played her a revised backing track of The Animals single 'Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood' which was a collaboration between 10cc and Barclay James Harvest.  He wanted her to record it as a single but it was in a much lower key and did nothing to showcase her voice.  She turned it down flat.

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She was introduced to a DJ at Liverpool's Radio City which resulted in sessions with airplay and interviews.  Round the same time she was also introduced to Charles Foster who was an announcer at Granada TV.  He set up a meeting with a producer at Radio Piccadilly in Manchester resulting in a prime time slot on their Night Beat programme.  Paul Mitchell-Davidson arranged 5 of her self-penned songs and the programme was broadcast on two separate occasions.

She carried on recording with engineer Bob Auger at his new studio Arrow Sounds.  It was round this time that she wrote and recorded a musical called 'Child Of The 60's' which was a conceptual theme about the 1960's, as seen through the eyes of a teenage girl.  This consisted of 11 songs and was recorded with just acoustic guitar and voice.  She made an appointment with a producer at The Everyman Theatre in Liverpool where she performed several of the songs live.  He seemed very interested in staging it but owing to lack of funds, it was put on a back burner.

In London, she was introduced to Laurence Aston of Transatlantic Records and had lucrative meetings but although he liked what he heard, he could not generate enough interest within the company as a whole.  This set a pattern and she had numerous interviews with many record companies who professed strong interest but when it came to a unanimous decision, a contract was not forthcoming.

In Manchester she performed at Band On The Wall regularly.  She also had a long residency at The Royal Exchange Theatre where the likes of actor Trevor Peacock used to come out of his dressing room specifically to watch her, with half of his stage make-up on and a towel thrown round his shoulders!  She went back into Arrow Sounds and recorded  a demo called 'People Can Say' arranged once again by Paul Mitchell-Davidson.  She was continually gigging backwards and forwards between Manchester and London and met a producer called John Astor who professed a keen interest.

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Her husband Robert Barrie went into partnership and formed a promotions company.  He signed three bands which she did some backing vocals for.  She also composed a variety of jingles for radio which was not creatively stimulating but the money was good!!

Back in London, Fran met Eric Lewis from United Artists.  John Astor had been hawking her demo single around and had arranged to meet up with her.  Eric Lewis played the single and appeared unimpressed so she quickly played him some live songs on the guitar and his reaction changed instantly and he phoned up one of his associates.  Soon after he flew to the US with the demo and said he would keep in touch.  Tragically he died suddenly, as did any further interest with his company.

Robert arranged for one of his bands Steroid Kiddies (who have become part of punk music history and are still gigging) to back Fran on her song 'Stole All My Love' in the studio.  The demo was heard by Vibes Records who pressed 1000 copies to 7 inch vinyl on their own label to promote it.  This single has recently been re-released in March 2008.

Various record companies in London were interested but it was after a meeting with Decca that things started to move.  They wanted to hear more songs and paid for Fran to go into a studio of her choice.  Bob Auger was very busy with other projects so Robert searched around and found a studio in Manchester called Central Sound.  Backing musicians were found and a session was booked to record 5 of her songs.

The owner of the studio was Dave Christie who was also the lead singer of his own band, Bacchus.  He professed interest in her, as his dream was to nurture a stable of artists and promote them throughout the UK and Europe.

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Dave forwarded the tape to Decca but he did not charge studio fees as he expressed the wish to manage Fran.  In the end it worked out for the best as Decca were undergoing major changes.  All his artists were afforded free studio time and advice.  Two of Fran's songs were recorded with Bacchus.  He then set about promoting her as well as his other artists.  As part of this drive he invited Clive Epstein (Brian Epstein's brother) to the studio to hear all the songs.  Clive showed great interest in Fran's work, especially a new conceptual album she had written called 'Priestess' which was about mysticism.  Subsequently he actually phoned her at home and asked if she would consider him as her manager but she did not want to break away.  She also changed her name to 'Fran Raya' and has kept the name ever since.

Bacchus flew to Denmark as they had been booked to perform for several months at a club in Copenhagen City.  Fran was still gigging and recording when she received a call from Dave to say that the Danish promoter Erik Thomsen who was then a partner in International Concerts Organisation wished to meet her.  He flew over and while he was in the UK Fran recorded four more of her songs with a rock group called Fingers.

Erik had major contacts and as a result Fran gigged with Ritchie Blackmore and Joan Armatrading.  She was also flown out to Denmark for publicity shots, and press interviews for TV and radio.  She was told that arrangements had been made for her to support Eric Clapton on his forthcoming 'Just One Night' Scandinavian tour.  She was booked into a 32 track recording studio in Copenhagen to make a project album of her songs with Bacchus.  The rock group Fingers, together with Bob Marshall who was the lead guitarist from Bacchus, would supply the backing for the live performances.  They would be Fran Raya & Friends performing a forty minute slot of 9 of her original songs.  This was advertised as such on the Clapton poster and Fran had a full page spread in the programme.

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Although the tour went well and a project album was recorded, there were managerial problems and Fran was caught in the political crossfire, so to speak.  She was still gigging, namely at a number of small rock clubs throughout Europe and writing new material.

Back in the UK she arranged a collaboration with bass guitarist Ryszard Szafranski (who was in her first backing group) and keyboard player/arranger Nigel Devereau.  They went into the studio and recorded 3 of her songs with an electronic twist.  Later on they recorded and filmed another session of songs, along with drummer Phil Watts (who is now a promoter with Bullet Management Ltd.)  She had several gigs to promote them and also sang a duet with 60's singer P.J.Proby at a private party thrown by a friend.

After a while she stopped performing and was accepted as a member of BASCA and also The Guild Of International Songwriters and Composers.  However, a golden opportunity arose to go to perform in Nashville through Tom Paxton but there was a last minute hitch and it was called off.  Round this time singer Iain Scott, who won a heat in 'Stars In Your Eyes' on ITV (as the singer Peter Noone from Herman's Hermits) asked her for two original songs.  He recorded them both, namely 'If I Told You' and 'Lesson In Love'.

For the past few years she has concentrated purely on her literary efforts, which have been rewarded.  Her own book of poetry entitled Thoughts Of The Poet and written under the pen name of Frances Rochelle Barrie is to be published by United Press and will be available in the shops and libraries by March 2009.

Also Fran Raya the performer has come full circle and is back writing new songs and aiming for them to be recorded by other artists.