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Carol Fran And Clarence Hollimon

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Just call Carol Fran and her husband Clarence Hollimon the new sweethearts of the blues. Not only are they a coosome twosome off-stage, the pair share uncommon empathy on-stage as well. The couple first met in 1957 in New Orleans. Fran was a winsome Louisiana chanteuse with a Gulf Coast hit on Excello, "Emmitt Lee," to her credit; Hollimon was a fiery young guitar slinger who had backed Big Mama Thornton on the road before playing sizzling solos on many of Bobby "Blue" Bland's classic waxings for Duke. But love wasn't in the cards just then. In 1983, fate brought the pair back together at a Houston nightclub, and they've been a romantic item ever since. Two albums on Black Top, Soul Sensation in 1992 and See There! two years later, have cemented their musical bonds. Fran toured with bandleader Joe Lutcher when she was a mere 15 years old in 1949. Famed producer J.D. Miller was behind the board when Carol Fran cut "Emmitt Lee" in Crowley, LA, in 1957. Her later waxings for Port and other diskeries tended toward the R&B side of the stylistic tracks. Fran's soulful 1965 reading of "Crying in the Chapel" was crushed by Elvis Presley's competing version. Meanwhile, Hollimon became a studio stalwart, playing on sides by Bland, Junior Parker, Joe Hinton, and a host of others. Nothing substantial had been heard from Fran or Hollimon prior to their hooking up with Black Top only a few years ago. Lucky in music and in love, they are a versatile duo. She sings jazzy ballads as convincingly as swinging R&B, and Hollimon's fleet fingers are conversant with virtually any chord progression known to man. ~ Bill Dahl