"Jazz is like a piece of blank canvas, giving you the freedom to use different colours, different strokes to convey a message. And this suits my character perfectly." - Joshua Francis (translated from The Zao Bao Newspaper, 2018)
Born in Singapore into a musical family, Joshua Nathaniel Francis is no stranger to the art. His father, guitarist and music educator, Remigius Francis quickly became aware of his son's natural ear for melodies, rhythm and improvisation and at the age of 5 had him enrolled in piano lessons in an effort to have him follow in the footsteps of his sister, Natalia Ashley Francis, an accomplished Classical concert pianist. It was here, where he was exposed to the music of Rachmaninov, Ravel, Chopin and many others; music that would inspire and influence him to this day.
However, mastery of the piano was not to be as Joshua soon found his calling after hearing the music of Jazz guitarist, Django Reinhardt at a music store in Perth, WA. Enamored with the timbre of the guitar, Joshua began lessons with his father and was occasionally mentored by his uncle, Ethnomusicologist, Classical/Flamenco guitarist and former Associate Professor of Music at NIE, Dr. Hilarian Francis. Under the tutelage of his father, Joshua was introduced to the Classical, Flamenco and acoustic Blues/finger-style guitar. The last two draw heavily upon improvisation, digging deep into one's soul, which came naturally to him and by the age of 7 gave his first public performance in Perth, WA.
Upon returning to Singapore, Joshua delved deep into the electric guitar and became acquainted with its associated genres, including the electric variant of The Blues. He would hone his skills in the artform for the next few years by studying the work of greats Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King, Duane Allman - to name a few - and by the age of 13, in recognition of his talents, had been invited to perform for the ACRES Charity Gala Dinner in 2007 with Dr. Amy Khor as the Guest-of-Honor. It wasn't long before he was sharing the stage with legends like Amar Sundy, Victor Chen, Rai (from Jack and Rai), Mathilda D'Silva and Mel Ferdinands and by 16, he would be invited to perform at the prestigious Jazz and Blues bar, No Black Tie in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Since then, Joshua has been in demand as a sessionist, offering his expertise to various Alternative, Blues, Rock, Folk, Pop, Country and Rockabilly groups, showcasing his versatility as a musician. He is currently the lead guitarist of the Blues/Roots band, Cat Mountain Kings fronted by CEO of Eu Yan Sang, Richard Eu, which opened for Joanna Dong at the first Shanghai Boogaloo Festival in May, 2018.
Looking to broaden his musical vocabulary, Joshua embarked on tackling the Jazz genre. After a strict auditioning process, he was selected as the guitarist for the Mosaic Jazz Fellowship (MJF) programme of 2018, set-up by local Jazz legend Soh Wen Ming in collaboration with The Esplanade. There, he was mentored for 12-weeks by top Singaporean Jazz musicians Andrew Lim, Chok Kerong, Joshua Wan and Dr. Tony Makarome in the artform. Consequently, he was interviewed by the Zao Bao newspaper in 2018 as a promising prospect in the Singapore Jazz scene. Upon completion of the programme, he has been recognized by The Esplanade as a proficient Jazz musician and has performed under their Jazz In July and All Things New events exclusively as such. He has since attended numerous jam sessions and has shared the stage with musicians such as Atozzio, Eugene Bridges, Oliver Von Essen, Tim Stocker, Erik Hargrove, Jeremy Monteiro, Chok Kerong, Joshua Wan, Soh Wen Ming, Rick Smith and countless others, regularly continuing to do so.
Armed with a deep understanding of The Blues, and music, he has taken it upon himself to reintroduce a sound often lost in Jazz music today - soul. Therefore, it would only be natural for him to assemble his very own Jazz Quartet (Joshua Francis Quartet) in hopes to deliver his message to the people.