I only recently shared a childhood secret with a friend: that my dream was to one day become President. Now the world knows and can laugh with me at the improbability of my dream. But I have lived to see another lad dare to dream. With all the love and support that most only dream of getting from their parents, Franchika Abey is a rising musical teen sensation with vocals that have uprooted the Rev. Jesse Jackson from his seat and moved him to tears and admiration.
Franchika Abey’s parents are Cameroonian-Americans. Franchika was born in Chicago and many of us Cameroonians are not just feeling blessed that she is our child, we are feeling blessed that we can dream again, albeit through the dreams of our kids.
Judging her greatness
How great is this single? Anyone who has heard me sing is extremely polite to think I only have a frog jammed down my throat. But at two and closing in on three years, my daughter has a knack for ordained vocals. She covers her ears if I am singing in her presence. So much so, I watch for my daughter’s reaction during talent shows like American Idol, the VOICE …etc. When she is not goofing around like any kid her age should, you can tell by her body language that something divine is happening.
I was down stairs listening to Franchika’s “Waiting on a Kiss” when my daughter flashed down the flight of stairs to get closer to the source of music so mesmerizing, she ignored her mother’s call to come get her chocolate milk. Now, if only you know how much she loves her milk, this is no joke. It was evident she was transfixed by the experience and was consuming the moment. That is a a key demographic that she is pocketing, and McDonald's recognizes that fact.
There have been heartaches and untold sacrifices that the parents of Franchika have gone through to get to this point. There are parents and family friends who questioned the wisdom of the path.
Let your children live their dreams
But I remember one of several conversations that I had with Franchika’s father. This was several years ago on the eve of his enthronement as village chief of his ethnic group in the Widikum land of the Northwest region in Cameroon. HRH Joseph Abey of Tikom-Widikum said:
“My fervent hope is for many more Cameroonian parents to let their kids live their dreams. I feel my role as a parent is to guide my children, not to have them live the dream I have for them or that I had for myself.”
Truth be told, I don’t know what my daughter will become. Like most every parent I think she is capable of becoming whatever she puts her mind to. We are just concluding an epic Summer Olympic meeting in Great Britain where Gabby Douglas fulfilled her long-shot dream to become an All around Olympic gymnast. It was absolutely fabulous for me as a parent to witness the awesomeness of the moment and what makes human achievement possible: a dream.
Not forcing but fostering
The Abey’s could have been dream killers. Thankfully, they recognized her talent at the early age of five and bought her a karaoke machine that remains her favorite gift. It has become the foundation upon which she has built her passion, enabling her to win every contest that she has fielded in. At the intro to “Waiting on a Kiss” Franchika unapologetically tells the world that “Music is in me”. I can attest it. I have seen her create a stage out of every space.
And she has had to work it to get to this point. She started earning her stripes for the art by enrolling in in Muzicnet School of music. In later years she attended the Center school of music in Chicago, where she was taking private vocal lessons.
Franchika has wowed us at house parties in Chicago. She has performed in hot basements without any serious sound systems, sometimes without a microphone. But some of us have also been fortunate to follow her to Mega churches in Chicago, or attended some of the school and charity events at which she was invited. She has showcased her talent across major media markets from Chicago, Atlanta, Ohio, Houston, L.A, and Dallas. According to YouTube, some of her most memorable moments include “performing for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's 69th birthday at operation PUSH headquarters in Chicago, Performing at the Staple center L.A for a private fundraiser and MGM GRAND GARDEN LAS FOR ARBONNE”.
What I love more about this up and rising teen sensation is her academic brilliance. The parents will not tell you she received a letter from President Obama congratulating her, not for her musical endeavors, but for excelling in academics. .
Go tell the world this: She calls me “Uncle”, with the modesty of her mother... And she loves the company of her siblings - Iya (older), Claude and Destiny.