Gene Watson's Peers within the country music industry believe in the sheer talent of this unassuming man from east Texas, so much so that Gene is regarded by many of them as 'the singer's singer' - and rightly so!
All of Gene Watson's Peers, who were contacted by The Gene Watson Fan Site, during 2009, were most gracious with their time and words.
It is here, within this special part of The Gene Watson Fan Site, that you have an opportunity to read a quote from Cleve Francis, which he submitted to this site on Tuesday 23 June 2009.
Sean Brady would like to take this opportunity to say 'thank you' to Cleve Francis who made a special contribution to this unique part of this online 'celebration of a Lone Star Hero'.
This quote was submitted on Tuesday 23 June 2009.
'Sean, thanks for your inquiry.
I have always been a fan of Gene's music.
He will always stand as one of the more significant voices and careers in country music.
He is a 'foundational' link in the history of contemporary country music as we know it.
Thanks for all of your efforts in keeping this great artist's work before the world'.
Thank you, Cleve Francis, for your support of Gene Watson.
About Cleve Francis...
Cleve Francis was born Cleveland 'Cleve' Francis Junior on Sunday 22 April 1945 and was raised near Jennings, Louisiana an area where the importance of music such as African, Cajun and rural American rhythms prevailed.
It was into this rich blend of sounds that young Cleve Francis first became aware of his own musical voice. When he was eight years old, Cleve Francis felt so moved by the varied notes heard over the radio that he summoned up the courage to ask his mother for a guitar he knew they could ill afford.
Seeing the enthusiasm in her son’s eyes, or perhaps sensing his natural talent, Mrs. Francis struck a bargain with her son that would shape his lifetime.
Cleve Francis' mother agreed to purchase the instrument, under the condition that Cleve get all his homework done and study very hard. With the agreement set, Mrs. Francis saved quarters for nearly a year until she was able to purchase a Silvertone guitar from the Sears & Roebuck catalogue. And, true to his word, Cleve Francis excelled in his schoolwork as he slowly developed his musical skills.
Cleve Francis became the accompanying guitarist for a local gospel quartet known as Mid-South Spiritual Singers.
In addition to touring on weekends with the group, Cleve Francis also played the tuba in his high school band, as well as becoming the musical director of its chorus. Despite Cleve Francis' obvious musical abilities, his mother knew that the only certain road out of the poverty and segregation of the rural south was through a solid education.
After high school graduation, Cleve Francis enrolled at Southern University in Baton Rouge. While attending the university, Cleve Francis met Dr. Huel Perkins, head of the music department. Cleve Francis reluctantly admitted that he played the guitar and sang. Huel Perkins set up an appointment to hear a sample of his student’s abilities. A session that was scheduled to last twenty minutes ended up spanning the course of an entire day, including the recording of several country music ballads.
Dr. Perkins was so impressed with Cleve Francis that he insisted on purchasing a new guitar to replace the old Silvertone which had developed a severe crack in its side. It was with Dr. Perkins’ encouragement and sponsorship that the young pre-med student gave his first formal concert before a group of over a hundred of the university’s music majors.
After completion of his studies at Southern, Cleve Francis headed off to graduate school at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Cleve Francis soon found an enjoyable way of earning extra spending money by performing in the colonial taverns and around the Tidewater area in small venues. It was with the encouragement of his Williamsburg fans that Cleve Francis cut his first recording, 'The Willow Tree', in 1966.
With his master’s degree in biology, Cleve Francis moved on to medical school at Medical College of Virginia (VCU). While he made no recordings during this period, Cleve Francis did write songs, develop musical associations and earn money for his medical school expenses by working of the road with other musicians during the summer months.
During his residency at George Washington University Medical Center, Cleve Francis began performing at the 'Singer’s Studio' in Washington’s fashionable Georgetown district. Teamed with fellow guitarist Billy Pierce, Cleve Francis entertained hundreds of fans with such favourites as Sam Cooke's 'You Send Me' and The Eagles’ 'Desperado'.
In 1978, with his medical training complete, Cleve Francis set up his cardiology practice in nearby Alexandria, Virginia and, as time passed, the young doctor's reputation as a highly skilled medical practitioner spread throughout the area.
By the mid 1980s, Cleve Francis was performing at the nationally acclaimed 'Birchmere' in Alexandria. As his celebrity steadily grew around the Washington area, Cleve Francis decided to become involved with two important causes: AIDs education and awareness and the plight of Vietnam era veterans.
By the early 1990s, Mount Vernon Cardiology occupied the vast majority of Cleve Francis' time and energy. As a full-time physician and important member of the local medical community, it had become increasingly difficult to pursue his part-time musical avocation. But a strange coincidence took place that would yet again change the course of Cleve Francis' life.
While treating a cardiac patient at Mount Vernon Hospital, Cleve Francis was introduced to the patient's brother 'Big John Hall', who was formerly a member of the 1950s rhythm & blues group known as 'The Heart Beats'. As John's brother recovered, Cleve Francis and John discussed their mutual love of music. Fascinated by the singing doctor, John asked if he could hear a few of Cleve Francis' tunes.
What followed was a serendipitous chain of events which ultimately led to a meeting with the president of Capitol Nashville Records; Jimmy Bowen, who had worked with such legendary artists as Frank Sinatra (Sunday 12 December 1915 - Thursday 14 May 1998), Sammy Davis Junior (Tuesday 8 December 1925 - Wednesday 16 May 1990), Glen Campbell, Gary Morris and Garth Brooks.
With a new album, 'Last Call for Love', and a professionally produced music video, Cleve Francis was overwhelmed by the response to the album's lead single 'Love Light'.
Suddenly, Cleve Francis' performance was being aired over Country Music Television (CMT) in the same rotation as tunes by Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless and Billy Dean; what was even more outstanding was the fact that Cleve Francis' video won Music Row Magazine’s 'Independent Video of the Year' in 1990.
With a three record deal now signed with Jimmy Bowen, Cleve Francis was sent on a country radio tour.
Crisscrossing the United States, Cleve Francis visited all the top country music radio stations and attended 'listening parties' throughout the nation.
On Monday 16 March 1992, Cleve Francis saw the release of 'Tourist in Paradise' (Capitol Nashville Records, 1992), which included three tracks, which were hit singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart:
'Love Light' (No.52, 1992)
'You Do My Heart Good' (No.47, 1992)
'How Can I Hold You' (No.74, 1992)
Cleve Francis' 'Tourist in Paradise' (Liberty Records, 1992) also included the following tracks:
'The Tip of My Fingers' (written by Bill Anderson)
'You're the Reason They Write Love Songs'
'Those were the Days, These are the Nights'
'Tourist in Paradise'
Cleve Francis' 'Tourist in Paradise' (Liberty Records, 1992) reached No.58 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart in 1992.
Following the release of Cleve Francis' 'Tourist in Paradise' (Liberty Records, 1992), Cleve Francis quickly became the darling of virtually every major television and newspaper outlet.
From New York to Washington, Atlanta to Chicago, articles were written about the singing cardiologist. Cleve Francis was featured in newspapers and periodicals from coast to coast; The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Constitution, Time and People Magazine all wrote fabulous and complementary articles about the doctor, who also happened to be a country music sensation.
CNN, CBS' 'This Morning' (later replayed on '60 Minutes'), The Today Show and Good Morning America all aired interviews or segments about the singer who was still holding down regular office hours as a practicing cardiologist in Alexandria, Virginia.
On Monday 10 May 1993, Cleve Francis saw the release of 'Walkin' (Liberty Records, 1993), which included two tracks, which were released as singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart:
'Walkin' (written by Tim Nichols and William Robinson) (No.63, 1993)
'I Won't Let You Walk Away' (written by Keith Folese, Adrienne Follesé and Chuck Jones) / this track was released as a single in 1993, but it did not chart
Cleve Francis' 'Walkin' (Liberty Records, 1993) also included the following tracks:
'Run like the Wind' (written by Dennis Knutson and Roger Alan Wade)
'If You'll Stop Hurting Me' (written by Jan Crutchfield)
'One More Last Chance' (written by Hal Bynum and Bud Reneau)
'Your Love Stays with Me' (written by Rory Bourke and Mike Reid)
'When will it be Love' (written by Carol Chase, Rob Crosby and Russell Smith)
'I was Losing You' (written by Bruce Burch)
'Heartaches on Parade' (written by Jan Crutchfield)
'You Can't Call it Love' (written by Carol Chase and Dave Gibson)
It was clear that Cleve Francis would have to take time off from his medical practice if he was going to fully explore the possibilities of his musical abilities. With the consent of his partners, Cleve Francis took a leave of absence as he struck out across America in his tour bus.
Cleve Francis began with a three-day performance schedule at Colorado State Fair, followed by a hectic schedule of personal appearances. Thousands of fans welcomed him wherever he went, but after two years of constant travel and no breakaway hit, it was time to take stock.
On Tuesday 23 August 1994, Cleve Francis saw the release of 'You've Got Me Now' (Liberty Records, 1994), which included two tracks, which were released as singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart:
'Love or the Lack Thereof', which was written by Don Cook, John Jarrard (Thursday 7 May 1953 - Thursday 1 February 2001) and Gary Nicholson / this track was released as a single in 1994, but it did not chart
'We Fell in Love Anyway' (written by Naomi Martin and Mike Reid) / this track was released as a single in 1994, but it did not chart / this track featured guest vocals from Patti Austin
Cleve Francis' 'You've Got Me Now' (Liberty Records, 1994) also included the following tracks:
'Not Even Monday'
'It Ain't Gonna Worry My Mind' (written by Richard Leigh)
'You've Got Me Now' (written by Robert Byrne and William Robinson)
'A Love Like This' (written by Bill Douglas, Gary Heyde and Jeff Stuart)
'Here You Are' (written by Hugh Prestwood)
'The Only Explanation' (written by David Malloy and Randy Sharp)
'If You'll Let This Fool Back In', which was written by John Jarrard (Thursday 7 May 1953 - Thursday 1 February 2001) and S. Alan Taylor
'What I Wouldn't Give' (written by Rick Bowles and Skip Ewing)
In 1994, following the release of 'You've Got Me Now' (Liberty Records, 1994), his last Liberty Records / Capitol Records album, Cleve Francis returned to his medical practice.
Still vitally interested in advancing the cause of African-American country artists, Cleve Francis collaborated with the Country Music Foundation and the Country Music Association (CMA) to increase their efforts to provide opportunities for talented young performers.
In 1998, Cleve Francis also worked closely with the Country Music Foundation and Warner Brothers Records to produce a first of its kind 3-CD box set, 'From Where I Stand' (Warner Bros. Records, 1998), which included recordings of many unknown African-American country music artists with material dating back to the great Black harmonica player DeFord Bailey (14 December 1899 - Friday 2 July 1982), who was a star of The Grand Ole Opry in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
The 3-CD box set, 'From Where I Stand' (Warner Bros. Records, 1998), included the following tracks:
'Pan American Blues', which was written by DeFord Bailey (14 December 1899 - Friday 2 July 1982) / this track was performed by DeFord Bailey
'Muscle Shoals Blues' (written by George W. Thomas) / this track was performed by DeFord Bailey
'Gray Eagle' / this track was performed by Taylor's Kentucky Boys
'G Rag' / this track was performed by Georgia Yellow Hammers
'K.C. Railroad Blues' (written by Andrew Baxter) / this track was performed by Andrew & Jim Baxter
'Dallas Rag' / this track was performed by Dallas String Band
'Bill Cheatham' / this track was performed by James Cole String Band
'Turkey Buzzard Blues' / this track was performed by Eddie Anthony and Peg Leg Howell
'Corrine, Corrina' / this track was performed by Bo Chatmon and Charlie McCoy
'Sitting on Top of the World' (written by Lonnie Chatmon and Walter Vinson) / this track was performed by Mississippi Sheiks
'Yodeling Fiddling Blues' (written by Lonnie Carter and Little Walter) / this track was performed by Mississippi Sheiks
'In the Jailhouse Now', which was written by Jimmie Rodgers (8 September 1897 - Friday 26 May 1933)() / this track was performed by Memphis Sheiks
'Morning Glory Waltz' / this track was performed by Mississippi Mud Steppers
'Midnight Special' (written by Lead Belly) / this track was performed by Lead Belly
'Rock Island Line' (written by Lead Belly) / this track was performed by Lead Belly
'Eighth of January' (traditional) / this track was performed by Nathan Frazier and Frank Patterson
'Apple Blossom' / this track was performed by John Lusk Band, Murph Gribble and Albert York
'Fox Chase' / this track was performed by DeFord Bailey
'Bloodshot Eyes' (written by Wynonie Harris and Hank Penny) / performed by Wynonie Harris
'Crying in the Chapel' (written by Artie Glenn) / this track was performed by The Orioles
'Down on the Farm', which was written by Big Al Downing (Tuesday 9 January 1940 - Monday 4 July 2005), Bobby Poe and Vernon Sandusky / this track was performed by Big Al Downing
'City Lights' (written by Bill Anderson) / this track was performed by Ivory Joe Hunter (Saturday 10 October 1914 - Friday 8 November 1974)
'I'm Movin' On', which was written by Hank Snow (Saturday 9 May 1914 - Monday 20 December 1999) / this track was performed by Ray Charles (Tuesday 23 September 1930 - Thursday 10 June 2004)
'Night Train to Memphis', which was written by Owen Bradley (Thursday 21 October 1915 - Wednesday 7 January 1998), Marvin Hughes and Harry Beasley Smith / this track was performed by Bobby Hebb
'Just Out of Reach' (written by Virgil Stewart) / this track was performed by Solomon Burke (Thursday 21 March 1940 - Sunday 10 October 2010)
'You Win Again', which was written by Hank Williams (Monday 17 September 1923 - Thursday 1 January 1953) / this track was performed by Fats Domino
'Release Me' (written by Eddie Miller, Dub Williams and Robert Yount) / this track was performed by Esther Phillips
'Funny How Time Slips Away' (written by Willie Nelson) / this track was performed by Joe Hinton
'Detroit City', which was written by Danny Dill (Friday 19 September 1924 - Thursday 23 October 2008) and Mel Tillis / this track was performed by Arthur Alexander (Friday 10 May 1940 - Wednesday 9 June 1993) and was originally released by Dot Records in 1965
'It Makes No Difference Now', which was written by Jimmie Davis (11 September 1899 - Sunday 5 November 2000) and Floyd Tillman (Tuesday 8 December 1914 - Friday 22 August 2003) / this track was performed by The Supremes
'A Satisfied Mind' (written by Joe Hayes and Jack Rhodes) / this track was performed by Bobby Hebb
'Will the Circle Be Unbroken', which was written by Alvin Pleasant (A.P.) Delaney Carter (15 December 1891 - Monday 7 November 1960) / this track was performed by The Staple Singers
'Half a Mind', which was written by Roger Miller (Thursday 2 January 1936 - Sunday 25 October 1992) / this track was performed by Joe Tex
'Almost Persuaded', which was written by Billy Sherrill (Thursday 5 November 1936 - Tuesday 4 August 2015) and Glenn Sutton (Tuesday 28 September 1937 - Tuesday 17 April 2007) / this track was performed by Etta James (Tuesday 25 January 1938 - Friday 20 January 2012)
'The Chokin' Kind', which was written by Harlan Howard (Thursday 8 September 1927 - Sunday 3 March 2002) / this track was performed by Joe Simon
'For the Good Times' (written by Kris Kristofferson) / this track was performed by Al Green
'He'll Never Love You' (written by Bettye Berger) / this track was performed by Ivory Joe Hunter
'Misty Blue' (written by Bobby Montgomery) / this track was performed by Dorothy Moore
'The Snakes Crawl at Night' (written by Fred Burch and Mel Tillis) / this track was performed by Charley Pride
'(I'm So) Afraid of Losing You Again', which was written by Dallas Frazier and Arthur Leo 'Doodle' Owens (Friday 28 November 1930 - Monday 4 October 1999) / this track was performed by Charley Pride
'(Is Anybody Going to) San Antone', which was written by Dave Kirby (Sunday 10 July 1938 - Saturday 17 April 2004) and Glenn Martin / this track was performed by Charley Pride
'Kiss an Angel Good Morning', which was written by Ben Peters (Tuesday 20 June 1933 - Wednesday 25 May 2005) / this track was performed by Charley Pride
'Colour Him Father' (written by Richard Spencer) / this track was performed by Linda Martell
'How I Got to Memphis' (written by Tom T. Hall) / this track was performed by Otis Williams & The Midnight Cowboys
'The Man That Made a Woman Out of Me' (written by Roy Baham) / this track was performed by La Melle Prince
'She's My Rock' (written by Gene Dobbins) / this track was performed by Stoney Edwards (Tuesday 24 December 1929 - Saturday 5 April 1997)
'Hank & Lefty Raised My Country Soul', which was written by Dallas Frazier and Arthur Leo 'Doodle' Owens (Friday 28 November 1930 - Monday 4 October 1999) / this track was performed by Stoney Edwards (Tuesday 24 December 1929 - Saturday 5 April 1997)
'Pickin' Wildflowers', which was written by Stoney Edwards (Tuesday 24 December 1929 - Saturday 5 April 1997) / this track was performed by Stoney Edwards
'Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You' (written by Jerry Akins, John Bellman, Victor Drayton and Reggie Turner) / this track was performed by Obie Burnett (O.B.) McClinton (Thursday 25 April 1940 - Wednesday 25 September 1987)
'Show Me Where', which was written by Ray Griff (Monday 22 April 1940 - Wednesday 9 March 2016) / this track was performed by Ruby Falls (Wednesday 16 January 1946 - Sunday 15 June 1986)
'Fairytale' (written by Anita Pointer and Bonnie Pointer) / this track was performed by The Pointer Sisters
'Touch Me (then I'll be your fool once more)', which was written by Big Al Downing (Tuesday 9 January 1940 - Monday 4 July 2005) / this track was performed by Big Al Downing
'Jambalaya (on the Bayou)', which was written by Hank Williams (Monday 17 September 1923 - Thursday 1 January 1953) / this track was performed by Professor Longhair
'Whiskey Heaven', which was written by Cliff Crofford (Thursday 12 December 1929 - Sunday 22 November 2009), Johnny Durrill and Tommy 'Snuff' Garrett (Tuesday 5 July 1938 - Wednesday 16 December 2015) / this track was performed by Fats Domino
'From Where I Stand' (written by Jennifer Kimball and Thom Schuyler) / this track was performed by Dobie Gray
'Love Light' (written by Glenn Castleberry and Bill C. Graham) / this track was performed by Cleve Francis
'The Grand Tour', which was written by George Richey (Saturday 30 November 1935 - Saturday 31 July 2010), Carmol Taylor (Saturday 5 September 1931 - Friday 5 December 1986) and Norro Wilson / this track was performed by Aaron Neville
'Irma Jackson' (written by Merle Haggard) / this track was performed by Barrence Whitfield
'There Stands the Glass', which was written by Russ Hull, Webb Pierce (Monday 8 August 1921 - Sunday 24 February 1991) and Mary Jean Shurtz / this track was performed by Ted Hawkins
'I'm a Happy Cowboy' (written by Herb Jeffries) / this track was performed by Herb Jeffries
Cleve Francis is the president of Mount Vernon Cardiology Associates and has served as the president of the Mount Vernon Hospital's Medical Staff.
Cleve Francis continues to perform locally in the Washington area at The Birchmere with his eleven-piece band, as well as at local charitable events. In his spare time, Clev0 Francise composes music, poetry and delivers motivational addresses on health issues.
At some point in the future, Cleve Francis hopes to publish a book on his life and experiences in country music.
On Friday 12 January 2007, Cleve Francis saw the release of 'Cleve Francis & Friends: Story Time at The Birchmere' (Cleve Francis Music, 2007), which included the following tracks:
'I'll Stop Loving You'
'Never Been a Honky Tonk'
'Poncho & Lefty', which was written by Townes Van Zandt (Tuesday 7 March 1944 - Wednesday 1 January 1997)
'It's Probably Me'
'I Turn to You'
'A Love Like This'
'Daddy Cut My Hair'
'Sailing to Philadelphia' intro
'Sailing to Philadelphia'
'City of New Orleans'
'The Only Explanation' intro
'The Only Explanation'
'Baloney Again' intro
'Two Names on an Overpass' intro
'Two Names on an Overpass'
'Wake Up, Little Sparrow'
'Better off with the Blues'
'Wait in Vain'
'Rainy Night in Georgia'
'You Send Me'
• Visit Cleve Francis' Official Site at clevefrancis.com