Dillard alumnus and instructor Franklin Davis IV has had quite a semester balancing his duties at Dillard University while preparing his first musical and competing on BET’s “Sunday’s Best” gospel show.
Now he’s gearing up for JazzFest.
His musical, “My Name is Free,” was performed last weekend (April 15-17) in Cook Theatre featuring all-original songs by Davis.
For the past several weeks, he’s been competing in the national gospel competition, now airing during the third season of the hit reality show. Davis and two Dillard students – Yessa Nessa Williams and Chrishira Perrier – made it through the first cut in the New Orleans auditions in February, but Davis was the only one of the three to make it to the finals.
Additionally, he will open perform May 2 on the Congo Square Stage during the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Davis performs every second Saturday at LeRoux’s Supper Club and has graced the stage at many other New Orleans venues.
“It’s quite a challenge because there’s the music, the acting/directing, the writing and then school,” Davis said.
A New Orleans resident, Davis graduated from Dillard with a music degree in 2004 and earned his master’s in communication from Minnesota State University in 2007. He started teaching speech communication at DU this spring.
Davis said the musical came about when he mentioned the idea to Theatre Department Chair Sherri Marina, and she instantly agreed. Freshman Jhory Buskey; sophomores Charisse Presley and Shantrell Green; juniors Tedrine Glover, Ian Lawrence and Christopher Robinson; and senior Roxie Wilson were the principal actors.
Songs in the musical included “Goodbye Mr. Gentleman,” which Davis said describes one character’s turning point. When pressed to choose his favorite, David
found it hard, describing it like “picking a favorite child,” but he concluded with “Right There.”
Davis said he has an album in the works, “True Stories, Fictional Characters.”