Fran McKendree grew up in rural Connecticut where he began to play guitar and, very reluctantly, sing. In high school, a trio he’d joined won a talent contest, first prize being a slot on a folk music radio show, and he was hooked.
He began his professional career playing at coffee houses in and around Syracuse University. Moving to the Glens Falls area of NY he formed "McKendree Spring," a four-piece folk-rock ensemble that the legendary promoter/manager Bill Graham dubbed "one of the best unknown bands in the world." The band recorded seven albums and toured with some of the most exciting artists of the 70's, beginning early in their career with several weeks at NY's famous 'Bitter End.' where they shared the bill with an amazing array of talent - from the Everly Brothers to James Taylor.
McKendree Spring developed a loyal following, spending the next several years touring the US, the UK and Canada, sharing the stage with everyone from the Average White Band to Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. The band played many memorable venues as well, including Carnegie Hall, the Fillmore East, and with the late Billy Preston, the first ever rock concert at Radio City Music Hall. With the [tiny, but hey, nice to be included!] McKendree Spring exhibit in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio is an attribution that says: “Experimental and innovative, McKendree Spring mixed blues, folk and country with a progressive musical vision." The group eventually disbanded in 1975, and each of the members went on to pursue varied careers.
Fran's 'varied career' began by signing the next year to Arista Records and recording with some of the finest session players in the NY/Toronto music scene. He wasn't touring during this time but did play a few memorable events, foremost among them a gig in NY's Central Park with Jimmy Cliff headlining [yes, a bit of a stylistic mismatch, but it sure was fun! ]. Fran was, however, finding this an increasingly challenging time in his life.
While walking around his New York City neighborhood one day, looking for inspiration, Fran discovered a small Episcopal church. The next Sunday he and his wife, Diana, went to see what it was all about....finding an engaging, faithful, outreach minded and artistic gathering of seekers. It was a breakthrough for Fran, opening a new spiritual path which led him to heed the call to to take some time for reflection. He and Diana moved to a small town on Cape Cod, where, setting aside his music, he began to work with youth, build houses, and make furniture [remember the 'varied career?'], eventually feeling a deep longing to make music again. Emerging from this soul searching period he began to work under the aegis of the Episcopal church. 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 Teerivane Studios in Hendersonville, NC, where he and Diana now live. Fran continues to be awed by the journey that has unfolded, writing; "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."
Much to Fran's surprise he received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 2016, for which he is most grateful!