Born Jane Marie Fricke on December 19, 1947, in South Whitley, IN. Education: Bachelor's degree in elementary education, Indiana University, 1972. Addresses: Record company--JMF Records, P.O. Box 798, Lancaster, TX 75146. Booking--Richard De La Font Agency, 4845 South Sheridan Road, Suite 505, Tulsa, OK 74145-5719. Website--Janie Fricke Official Website: http://www.janiefricke.com. Efirstname.lastname@example.org.
It was probably inevitable that Janie Fricke would become a singer, but she took a somewhat circuitous route to get there. Despite growing up in a musical family and spending much of her childhood singing at home, school, and church, it did not occur to Fricke that music might be a profession. While studying for her bachelor's degree in elementary education at Indiana University, she kept active musically. It remained a hobby, though, not a serious career choice. It was only when Fricke started earning extra money by singing commercial jingles that she began to see that music could actually earn her a living. In the years since the revelation, Fricke has performed for presidents and won some of the highest honors in country music.
Fricke was born Jane Marie Fricke on December 19, 1947, in South Whitley, Indiana, the daughter of a guitar-playing father and a mother who taught piano lessons and played the organ in church. Growing up on her family's 400-acre farm in northern Indiana, she was surrounded by music almost from birth. While still quite young, she learned to play the guitar from her father and the piano from her mother. By the time she was ten, Fricke was singing regularly in church and school. Interviewed in 2000 by Gritz, an online magazine covering country music, Fricke recalled: "music was in our family ever since I was a little girl, so I enjoyed music and the art of making music since the age of seven or eight years old. I didn't think I was going to make it a profession, it was just that I enjoyed it and it was fun. It didn't even occur to me that it might become a profession...."
Although she grew up in rural Indiana and later won her greatest fame as a country singer, Fricke showed little interest in country music as a child. "My family was always encouraging me to sing all of the pop songs of the time, so we were buying sheet music and I was singing Dusty Springfield and Rita Coolidge--anything that was a strong pop song at the time," she told Gritz. "So I was not your average country singer growing up on the farm and just singing country music. Musically, I was trained to read music and play the piano."
After graduating from high school, Fricke headed to Indiana University at Bloomington to study for her bachelor's degree in elementary education. She had long set her sights on a career as a grade school teacher. Given her musical childhood, it was not particularly surprising that she got involved with the school's famous Singing Hoosiers, a chorale ensemble that has toured widely in the United States and abroad. But music remained just a pleasant way to spend some free time for Fricke. It was only when she started earning money singing commercials that she began to see music in a whole new light. She realized that she could indeed earn a living with her music and became so excited at the possibility that she was seriously tempted to quit college and devote all her time to singing jingles. However, her mother insisted that she continue her studies at Indiana, so Fricke put her dreams on hold while she finished work on her bachelor's degree. She did manage to keep active musically during the remainder of her college career by "singing in little clubs and singing for any event I could because I loved to sing...," she told Gritz. She also developed an interest in studio work and some of the behind-the-scenes elements involved in recording.
After graduating from college in 1972, Fricke headed to Los Angeles, California, to see if she could make a living as a studio singer. Finding it hard to break into the business on the West Coast, she didn't stay long. In 1975, she headed to Nashville, Tennessee, where she joined the Lea Jane Singers, a group specializing in background vocals. The group often recorded as many as three sessions a day, five days a week. In her several years doing studio work, both with the group and solo, she sang background on hundreds of albums. She also continued to work as a jingle singer, recording commercials for such corporate giants as United Airlines, Coca-Cola, 7-Up, and Red Lobster.
After a few years in Nashville, Fricke became one of the city's most sought-after studio singers, supplying background vocals for such stars as Elvis Presley, Crystal Gayle, Ronnie Milsap, Conway Twitty, Tanya Tucker, Al Green, Eddie Rabbit, and Barbara Mandrell. Some of the better known singles on which she sang background include Presley's "My Way," Conway Twitty's "I'd Love to Lay You Down," Crystal Gayle's "I'll Get Over You," and Tanya Tucker's "Here's Some Love." However, it was her work as background vocalist on several recordings by Johnny Duncan that first brought Fricke to national attention. After supplying uncredited background vocals for such Duncan hits as "Jo and the Cowboy," "Thinkin' of a Rendezvous," "It Couldn't Have Been Any Better," and "Stranger," she was finally rewarded when she was given equal billing with Duncan on a single entitled "Come a Little Bit Closer." It was likely her contribution to Duncan's number one hit "Stranger" in 1977 that generated the most interest. In that song, Fricke sang the line, "Shut out the light and lead me...." Thousands of listeners wanted to know the identity of the "mystery singer." Fricke recalled to Gritz how she came to sing the line that was to take her into the limelight: "I was a backup singer in the studio at the time, and during a session they needed a girl to sing a couple of lines, so I happened to get the job of singing the line on that record. There again, fate had it. " Before long she had recorded duets with some of country music's top male singers including Merle Haggard, Charlie Rich, and Moe Bandy.
Soon Fricke released a couple of successful singles--"What're You Doing Tonight?" and a remake of "Please Help Me, I'm Falling." In 1982, Fricke hit number one on the country charts with "Don't Worry 'bout Me, Baby," on which Ricky Skaggs sang harmony. She toured with Alabama, and in 1983, scored another number one country hit with "He's a Heartache (Looking for a Place to Happen)," a single from Fricke's It Ain't Easy album. Other big hits from the album included "It Ain't Easy Being Easy" and "Tell Me a Lie."
"A Place to Fall Apart," her duet with Merle Haggard, hit number one on the country charts in 1985. The song was based on a letter Haggard had written about ex-wife Leona Williams. That same year, Fricke established the Janie Fricke Scholarship at Indiana University to benefit gifted students in the School of Music. The scholarships are open to active members of the Singing Hoosiers vocal ensemble who demonstrate financial need.
In 1986, Fricke released Black and White, an album that explored her love of the blues. Three years later, in 1989, she worked with producer-songwriter Chris Waters on her album entitled Labor of Love. Among the successful singles from that collaborative effort were "Love Is One of Those Words," written by Waters and his sister Holly Dunn, and Steve Earle's "My Old Friend, the Blues." Not long after the album's release, Fricke left the Columbia label. In 1992 she signed with Branson Entertainment and released two albums on the Branson label--Crossroads in 1992 and Now & Then in 1993.
Fricke's album Bouncin' Backwas released in 2000 under her own label, JMF Records. In a unique marketing decision, she decided to use the power of the Internet exclusively to sell the album. Fricke continues to tour extensively, but she makes sure to set aside plenty of time to spend with her family on her Texas ranch near Lancaster.
Asked what she saw as the highlights of her career, Fricke did not hesitate. For this farm-bred girl, nothing has been quite as thrilling as performing for three presidents. She performed for President Gerald Ford at the White House, entertained President Ronald Reagan at Camp David, and sang in a show for President George Bush at Washington's Ford Theater. Coming in a close second in the thrill department, she added, was "winning an award and going up to get it," she told Gritz.
by Don Amerman
Janie Fricke's Career
Sang commercial jingles while still in college; moved to Nashville to sing backup vocals, 1975; supplied background vocals on more than 1,200 albums; began recording on her own, releasing three successful albums, late 1970s; had first solo number one country hit with "Don't Worry 'bout Me, Baby," released It Ain't Easy, 1982; released Labor of Love, 1989; signed with Branson Entertainment, released Crossroads, 1992; released Now & Then, 1993; formed own label, JMF Records, released Bouncin' Back, 2000.
Janie Fricke's Awards
Most Promising Female Vocalist, 1979, and Female Vocalist of the Year, 1984,Music City News Cover Awards; Female Vocalist of the Year, Country Music Association (CMA), 1982-83; Female Vocalist of the Year, Academy of Country Music, 1984; Top Country Female Vocalist, Billboard magazine, 1983; Top Country Female Vocalist, Cash Box magazine, 1983- 84; Most Popular International Solo Act--Female, Country Music Round Up (Britain), 1986.
- Selected discography
- Singer of Songs (includes "What Are You Doing Tonight" and "Baby, It's You"), Columbia, 1978.
- Love Notes (includes "Playin' Hard to Get" and "Let's Try Again"), Columbia, 1979.
- Janie Fricke , Intersound, 1979.
- From the Heart (includes "But Love Me" and "Pass Me By"), Columbia, 1980.
- I'll Need Someone to Hold Me When I Cry (includes "Down to My Last Broken Heart" and "Pride"), CBS, 1981.
- Sleeping with Your Memory (includes "Do Me with Love" and "Don't Worry 'bout Me, Baby"),CBS, 1981.
- It Ain't Easy (includes "It Ain't Easy Being Easy" and "He's a Heartache"), Columbia, 1982.
- Love Lies (includes "Let's Stop Talking about It" and "If the Fall Don't Get You"), CBS, 1983.
- First Word in Memory (includes "Your Heart's Not in It"), CBS, 1984.
- Somebody Else's Fire (includes "Easy to Please" and "She's Single Again"), Columbia, 1985.
- Black & White (includes "Always Have, Always Will"), CBS, 1986.
- After Midnight (includes "Are You Satisfied" and "Baby, You're Gone"), CBS, 1987.
- Celebration , CBS, 1987.
- Saddle the Wind , Columbia, 1988.
- Labor of Love (includes "Love Is One of Those Words"), Columbia, 1989.
- Crossroads , Branson, 1992.
- Now & Then , Branson, 1993.
- Bouncin' Back , JMF Records, 2000.
June 7, 2005: Fricke's collaboration album, Janie Fricke and Holly Dunne, was released. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_4/index.jsp, June 7, 2005.
- Mansfield, Brian, and Gary Graff, MusicHound Country: The Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink Press, 1997.
- "Fate Loves Janie Fricke," Gritz, http://www.gritz.net/janiefricke.html (May 9, 2001).
- "Janie Facts," Janie Fricke Official Website, http://www.janiefricke.com/facts.html (May 9, 2001).
- "Janie Fricke," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (May 9, 2001).
- "Janie Fricke," Grabow & Associates, http://188.8.131.52/Janie%20Fricke.htm (May 9, 2001).
- "Janie Fricke," iMusic Country Showcase, http://imusic.artistdirect.com/showcase/country/janiefricke.html (May 9, 2001).
- "Janie Fricke," Richard De La Font Agency Inc., http://www.delafont.com/music_acts/Janie_Fricke.htm (May 9, 2001).
- "Janie Fricke: Biography," Sonicnet.com, http://www.sonicnet.com/artists/biography/505343.jhtml (May 9, 2001).
- "The Janie Fricke Scholarship," Indiana University School of Music, http://www.music.indiana.edu/som/scholarship/fricke.htm (May 9, 2001).