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Exploring Life & Business with Frank McComb of Boobeescoot Music and FM Concerts

Today we’d like to introduce you to Frank McComb.

Hi Frank, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
Most people want to place me into the “Neo Soul” category which limits my capabilities. I’m extremely versatile so I say with pride and humility that I call myself a “Soul/Jazz” recording artist. This “title”, if you will, describes more flexibility and removes the “limits” that the music industry has the tendency of placing on recording artists.

My fans and followers affectionately describe my work as a recording artist as the perfect combination of Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and George Duke. I’ve worked with many of the entertainment industry’s giants including but not limited to: Prince, Branford Marsalis, George Duke, Najee, Patrice Rushen, The Rude Boys, Phil Perry, Tommy Davidson, Fred Hammond, John P. Kee, Songwriting duo Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Will Smith), Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly, Rickey Minor, Teena Marie, Marqueal Jordan, Avery*Sunshine, Ledisi, Lalah Hathaway, Terri Lynn Carrington, Phyllis Hyman, Valerie Simpson, Philip Bailey, and more. I’m a record producer as well. I produce, write, record, engineer, mix and master all of my own work and most of the work I do for others. I recently produced an album for Dutch recording artist Jennie Lena (“The Voice, Holland”) entitled “Analog Girl in a Digital World”, and I’m currently wrapping up a new album for Val B. King, the granddaughter of blues legend B.B. King. I wrote and recorded a song called “Signature” for legendary saxophonist Najee for his album “You, Me, and Forever”. It reached #10 on the Billboard Jazz Chart, and I’m proud to announce that on October 14, 2021 I released the new duet single “I Gotta Pinch Myself (I Must Be Dreaming)” with vocalist Kathy Kosins and featuring Najee.

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio on July 15, 1970 and I was raised in a small holiness church where I watched my mother and all of my aunts sing every Sunday. A little church where my grandmother would eventually become the pastor for many years. My first instrument was drums at age 8. At age 12, my aunt Evelina Palmer gave me three piano lessons. She would teach me for an hour for three consecutive Sundays, then she had to stop teaching me for whatever the reason. If you do the math, I only had 3 hours of piano training. From there, I damaged all of my mother’s vinyl albums due to studying everything I could get my ears on. However, I can’t put an age to the time I started singing. I knew as very young child that I wanted to be a singer, to be out front as a performer. At age 15, I began playing in the bars of Cleveland, Ohio under the protection of all the “old cats”. I started my first trio (The Frank McComb Trio) at age 17, and at age 19 I became the musical director for Cleveland’s Own “The Rude Boys”, who had just gotten signed to Atlantic Records through r&b singer, the late Gerald Levert. We toured the USA in 1991 and, while on that tour, I met a few friends when we made the stop in Philadelphia. That meeting led to me relocating to Philadelphia once the tour was over in September 1991. Once settled in Philadelphia, I began doing recording sessions for the legendary songwriting duo Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and session work and live performances with DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Jeff Townes and Will Smith). While living in Philadelphia, a record company executive named Steve McKeever (Hidden Beach Records, Jill Scott, Kindred, Mike Phillips) had heard about me so he made his way to Philadelphia to meet with me personally during a recording session at Philadelphia International Records. At that time, he was scouting for talent to sign to MoJazz Records, the new contemporary jazz label that he had developed for Motown Records. I signed a record deal with MoJazz, then moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, Ca. on November 9, 1992.

In 1994 Motown/MoJazz was bought by Polygram for millions of dollars, and I was one of the artists who got lost in the shuffle during that deal, so I graciously asked Steve McKeever and the late Jheryl Busby to release me from my contract so that I could find my way as a recording artist. With no hesitation, they let me go. It was then that I received a call from Steve McKeever that Branford Marsalis was looking for a male vocalist to add to his new band “Buckshot LeFonque”. This lead to recording two albums with this band. The first being the self-titled “Buckshot LeFonque” and the second one being “Music Evolution” which housed the hit song “Another Day”, putting me out front as the featured vocalist. “Another Day” reached #5 on the r&b charts and #1 on the pop charts. It was this featured performance that would lead to a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1998 where I would record my debut album “Love Stories”. After recording “Love Stories” in 1998, it was shelved for all of 1999 thus forcing me to put my musician hat back on and play as a sideman for Maze featuring Frankie Beverly in April of 1999, and then for Chaka Khan from May until December 31st of 1999. After numerous meetings and bouts with the label, they finally released it on March 7, 2000. I found no reason to stay with Columbia Records after learning that there would be no support given for my album so it enabled me to part ways with them. In 2003, I signed a deal with an independent record label called Malibu Sessions for the release of my sophomore album “The Truth”. Within a year, that deal went south as well due to the label and my management becoming “a team within a team”, They partnered to manipulate me as the artist to do things in favor of the record label.

After gaining the experience of being signed to three record labels, resulting in one album release and no mainstream radio or television exposure of any kind, I decided to stop and evaluate my career through the eyes of “my own manager” (if you will) and not through the eyes of a “recording artist”. I saw Motown as a major black record label, I saw Columbia Records as a major white record label, and I saw Malibu Sessions as an independent record label, where I happened to be the only artist on the roster. I didn’t want to make a career of “chasing record labels” to try and find one who would focus on ME and my MUSIC and not the politics. After Malibu Sessions breached their own contract, it gave me the opportunity to leave their label and do a bit of soul searching. I then decided to release my own music independently, so in 2004 I released my 3rd CD, “Straight From The Vault”, an entirely self-written, self-produced and self-recorded CD that would win me the “SoulTracks Readers Choice Award” for “Best Album of the Year”, and in 2005 earn a spotlight with Jill Scott in Oprah Winfrey’s highly respected “O Magazine” as the #1 choice out of four of Jill’s favorite CD’s at the time.

“Straight From The Vault” was followed by many album releases and numerous singles between 2006 and 2021 under my own little music imprint “Boobeescoot Music”.

By the way, I was honored by Music Radar as the 27th greatest keyboard player of all time. Not too bad for an independent recording artist from the hood of Cleveland, Ohio with only three one-hour piano lessons.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
People make the huge mistake of saying that “Frank McComb is underrated…”. I DO believe the people/fans make this statement from a place of love for me, but the reality is that I’ve been overlooked and underappreciated as a recording artist, not underrated. If I was underrated, I would never have been invited to work with the legends and giants that I’ve worked with in this industry.

Being an extremely versatile recording artist- one who can successfully write, record, engineer, produce, mix and master his own work, and sell it directly to the buying public internationally- makes me a very different kind of recording artist. I’m a “jack of all trades and a master of all of them”, however, because of this, the people who lead the music industry back when I was signed to the major record labels didn’t seem to know where to “place me” so to speak. One man whose voice resembles that of Stevie Wonder’s and Donny Hathaway’s, and whose piano playing resembles that of Herbie Hancock’s and George Duke’s… yet, also knows what’s best for his own career… I was a threat to some because of my knowledge and intimidating to others because of my music capabilities. I entered the music game as a mainstream recording artist in 1992 but was forced into becoming an independent recording artist in 2004. It was megastar Prince who encouraged me brand myself as my own product and to continue pressing forward as an independent recording artist once he learned of my struggles in the music industry with the major record labels.

I had to do things for myself to make a good living doing what I love to do. Though I’d never want to go through any of those struggles again, I thank God for them because I was able to sustain when it came down to entertaining my fanbase online in 2020 during COVID-19. I was able to perform my own music to my fanbase through social media thanks to owning all of my master recordings from 2004’s “Straight From The Vault” to 2021’s “I Gotta Pinch Myself (I Must Be Dreaming”).

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I started my own little imprint “Boobeescoot Music” so that I could have a home for my own music. The name came about because my wife and I saw our daughter, our firstborn child, as a little toy. Everything she did fascinated us! I was making visits to the County Recorder’s Office in search of a name for my company at the age she was just learning to crawl. The representative at the County Recorder’s Office kept telling me that every name I would bring in was owned by someone else. One day, my daughter got really excited to see her mom and “scooted” her way to her. My wife then screamed “Oh my God!! She’s crawling to me!! Look at little Boobeescoot!!!”. That was the moment I found the name for my little one-man company… “Boobeescoot Music”. It was immediately cleared by the little old lady who worked for the County Recorder’s Office. I patterned my company after the Isley Brothers’ “T-Neck” record label. They founded their own label and got distribution through CBS (what we know today as Sony) for their label because they wanted a place to release their own music their own way. No one’s been on Boobeescoot Music but me. It’s designed for me. It’s also the name for my production company when producing music for other artists.

“FM Concerts” is the company I use for booking my performances as I’m self-booked. I’ve been booking my own work since the start of “The Frank McComb Trio” at age 17. As a kid back in Cleveland, Ohio, I would get in my car and drive from bar to bar with a small cassette player and ask to meet with the owner of the bars or the person/people who ran them. I would play the cassette tapes of the rehearsals of my band and ask them to book us. I didn’t know it was going to turn into booking concerts and appearances for myself internationally. I had to take the same mentality and hustle that I had as a kid musician back in Cleveland in 1987 and use it for myself on a higher level as a recording artist in 2001 because I could never get a booking agency to add me to their roster. Maybe it was due to the lack of record label support.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Every step I took when going independent was a risk. From leaving mainstream to independently recording, mixing, and mastering my own music, to hand-packaging my cds and selling them internationally, to reaching out to clubs and venues with hopes that they would take me seriously as a recording artist booking my own concerts, to sending a poorly packaged product to many radio stations and asking them to take a chance on playing my music with the hope that they wouldn’t shut ME down, thinking I was a “Frank McComb” imposter… these were all risks I had to take, all while praying to God that doors would open for me so that I could support my family. “Straight From The Vault” is my third record, but the first record I solely recorded on my own. I sent hand-packaged copies of it to many radio stations and only two radio stations supported it. They were WCLK in Atlanta, GA and WHUR in Washington, DC.

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Image Credits:

Ferrell Phelps Photography

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