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September 13, 2018

Frankie Simone Brings Fierce Love to TEDxMtHood 2018
Category: 2018 Event, Musical Guests, News

Frankie Simone offers a vision of pop music as a conduit for collective enlightenment, self-empowerment and awakening. Pop rarely transcends the constraints of dominant culture, but Simone’s incantations of radical self-love aren’t just transcendent, they’re transformative. 

Frankie Simone has her own story of awakening. It began as a kid, when she tried to fit the lily-white beauty ideals of her native Southern California. It took a vital twist when, in college, Simone discovered a new community — one that encouraged her to be her own arbiter of style and attitude. That same community taught her to love, without reservation, whoever she wanted. And Simone’s story continues in her music, which exists, she says, “to celebrate every type of human.”

It’s a message Simone has worked hard to communicate, through youth outreach programs and community work — and in various musical projects over the years. And in 2014, she had a breakthrough: she put together a collaborative, experimental music project with her wife — dancer and performance artist Che Che Luna — and crowdfunded a west coast tour that began in their then-hometown of Santa Cruz, California and wrapped up in Portland, Oregon. Simone and Luna fell in love with the city, and decided to move there. 

Portland, one of the least diverse cities in America, may not seem like the likeliest home for an emerging queer, Puerto Rican pop star. But after overcoming the initial shock of the city’s constant rain, she found friends and allies in the city’s deep-rooted artistic community. And on many levels, Simone is a quintessential Portlander: she reads tarot cards, she carries crystals in her pocket. 

Her vision is confident and fearless — especially for an artist just getting started on her musical journey. Now planted firmly in her element, Simone sees songwriting and performing as both a craft and a calling. “I want people to feel, through my music, that we all have this magic that we can choose to tap into,” Simone says. “That we hold the keys to all of our greatest dreams — but we often stand in our own damn way!” 

That explains why Simone’s songs often double as anthems of empowerment. When she repeats “Come out, come out / My people where are you?” on the wild and stadium ready “LOVE//WARRIOR,” you get the impression she’s not speaking to any particular community, but coaxing out the fighter in all of us, and in herself.

Having survived her own battles, that kind of enthusiasm seems to come naturally to Simone. She’s a champion for a better, more inclusive, world to come. She is a High Priestess of Pop. The stage is Frankie Simone’s pulpit, and her message of love and acceptance is universal.

Casey Jarman