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In 1967, while living in New Jersey and working in accounting at a local firm as well as working part-time in a sporting goods department store, I met a man there who was the manager of a band. His son was the drummer. He had heard me humming and singing to music being played on a radio in the store and asked if I would be interested in auditioning for the band he was managing. The band, Eminent Domain, had been looking for a new lead-singer so I quickly agreed and went with him to visit the band while they were in rehearsal. I auditioned with them the following weekend with the song “Unchained Melody,” and they immediately signed me on.
Although I had become a Christian at age 19, I placed my spiritual life on hold. After all, I was the lead-singer of a successful rock band. The audiences loved my style, especially when I belted out “This Magic Moment,” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Donna,” and other songs that had been made popular by other top singers in the 50s and early 60s.My popularity began to rise and my band was in demand in nightclubs around the United States and Canada, and it was during this time I cut several records. My first attempt did not make the grade. Then in 1965 I did a remake of “This Magic Moment,” originally recorded by The Drifters, which became my signature song, and in 1969 “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” a Platters original. My last recording was “She Cried.”
In 1971 after some shocking mistreatment by the very agent who discovered us and made the Frankie Valens name, (no relation to Richie Valens, by the way) my career began a downward spiral. I fired the agent and he retaliated by pulling my records from the radio stations and canceling concerts before we could fulfill our obligations. By 1972 the Frankie Valens era had come to an end, and to this day I receive no royalties for any of my past successes. I went back into the accounting field and immersed myself in my work, later in my career finding time to be an extra in the movies “Ice Castles” and “Every Which Way But Loose.”
Frankie had the opportunity of singing in front of 35,000 enthusiastic Quixstar folk, where on the same ticket were former president Ronald Reagan and country singer Crystal Gale. He sang for the inauguration of a former mayor of San Diego, California, and for former California Governor Pete Wilson’s 60th birthday party at Sea World in San Diego.
For two consecutive years he was a featured performer at First Night San Diego, an alcohol-free alternative for New Year’s Eve in San Diego, California.
The Byrds, The Platters, and The Boxtops are 60s groups with whom Frankie has shared the spotlight over the past few years.
He was the guest performer for international lecturer / motivational speaker, John Maxwell’s 25th wedding anniversary celebration in San Diego, California. Frankie was the featured performer for KAKE-TV’s Adult Literacy Telethon on Easter Sunday, 2000, and for the Diabetes Association through “Up On The Roof,” a Wichita River Festival event, which is a national 10-day celebration.
He sang for the 80th Birthday Celebration of the Wichita Center For The Arts.
I was told that I was singing “Jesus Loves Me” at age three. I don’t remember that. What I do know is the Lord and music have been my life. My father was a chaplain at the end of World War II, and our family went to Japan where he was stationed during that time. At age 8, on July 4th, 19??, my independence day, I accepted the Lord and was baptized in the China Sea. I can still remember standing out in the water and having to wait for the waves to go by so my father and I would not be swamped when he baptized me.
I began piano lessons at age six and continued with lessons all through college. I wanted to quit taking lessons when I was in high school, but fortunately (I say that now!), I had parents who could “just say no!” You know that old saying, “You’ll thank me later”? Well, yes I sure do! One time after a concert a woman came up to me and said she’d like to play like me. I told her, “Practice a lot!” and she quickly responded with, “I knew there was a catch!”
I received my Bachelor of Sacred Music degree from a Bible College that was formerly in Oklahoma City, and I did some graduate work at Kansas University in Lawrence on a Masters In Choral Conducting. I began teaching piano students while I was in college, and eventually taught piano for about 15 years. However, I began teaching again about two years ago. I have just a few students – our schedule doesn’t allow me more – but I have one major requirement: the student must practice! I don’t keep students who won’t practice. It wastes the parents’ money and it wastes my time.
I did some substitute music-teaching in the public schools for several years in the 70’s. I also directed city-wide choirs and women’s choruses, and I have spoken for women’s retreats.
Professional accompanying was one of my activities: for choral directors, conventions, and miscellaneous events.
I took a different path for a few years and became the top Avon representative in my district in a very short time, moving into management within three years. My first year of management, out of 3,000 districts nation-wide, my district was #10, and had one of the highest average orders per representative in the nation. Trips to Hawaii and Monte Carlo were among some of my rewards.
I am a composer and arranger. I wrote children’s music for Standard Publishing’s Vacation Bible School for over twenty years, and had the theme song for two of those years. Four of the songs on our “Gone Are The Tears” album are creations of mine. I have arranged music for various instrumental ensembles as well as vocal.
Because I enjoy “wearing many hats,” I did some music pastoring at churches in the past, and also did some co-music pastoring with my husband Frankie a few years ago. Directing adult and children’s choirs and handbell choirs, working with praise teams and other ensembles, leading worship, and developing drama groups were some of my interests.
After Frankie and I had been married for just a few years, (we were married in 1985), he felt a calling to go into music evangelism. He wanted us to do some traveling, and I didn’t even like to travel at that time! God had to do a “180” on me to prepare me for that ministry, but He did, and I’m thankful. We have been together in full-time ministry for going on eleven years now, and we are the happiest we’ve ever been. I have said that we have the best of three worlds:
We’re doing what we’re trained to do, We’re doing what we like to do, And we’re doing what God wants us to do.
You can’t beat that combination! And I do feel blessed that this is a ministry we can do together. Not all are that fortunate. Frankie and I have a 24/7 marriage, and God has blessed us with the ability to handle that quite well, we feel.