Fran McKendree to perform next weekend

Folk musician Fran McKendree will give a concert during a youth group fundraiser 6-9 p.m. March 14 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1130 First Ave. McKendree is a performer, music leader, teacher and mentor. The event includes a spaghetti dinner: $12.50 for adults and $7.50 for children, and free for children under 5. Call 706-322-5569 ext. 309 for reservations.

Funds will go toward a summer youth mission trip to New York City.

Fran McKendree was born in Springfield, Mass. He grew up in rural Connecticut where he played the clarinet and later began to play guitar and reluctantly sing. In high school, a trio he’d joined won a local talent contest, first prize being a slot on a folk music radio show, and he was hooked, according to FranMcKendree.com.

He began his professional career playing at coffee houses in and around Syracuse University, and after moving to the Glens Falls area of New York in 1969, formed "McKendree Spring," a drumerless four-piece folk-rock ensemble that the legendary promoter/manager Bill Graham dubbed "one of the best unknown bands in the world." The band toured with some big-name artists of the '70s and shared the stage with performers such as the Everly Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, Elton John, Ike & Tina Turner, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, the Byrds, Jethro Tull and Van Morrison.

The group eventually disbanded in 1975, and each of the members went on to pursue varied careers.Fran McKendree was signed the next year to Arista Records, where he recorded several singles. He had moved to Toronto during the mid-70s, and the Arista releases garnered considerable radio play in Canada.

But he was finding this an increasingly frustrating time in the music business and, deciding to take some time for reflection, Fran and his wife, Diana, moved from New York City to a small town on Cape Cod, Mass., in 1979. Emerging from this soul-searching period he began in 1984 to work under the aegis of the Episcopal church, where he has continued to develop and explore his calling; doing concerts, as music leader and coordinator for conferences, keynote presenter, mentor and workshop leader. He has released several CDs, as well as producing recordings for other artists at his studio in Hendersonville, N.C., where he and Diana now live.

"My hope is to remain thankful for and receptive to the movement of God in my life, and to do this in a humble, energetic manner, celebrating our differences and similarities as creatures of God, and remembering always that we are called to actualize our faith in the world around us," he says on his Web site.