BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Dear Jenny…

In the final of a four-part series of profiles for Black History Month, Yinka pens a letter of thanks to Jenny Francis- The Lady Of Soul.

I never thought that I would write a love letter to someone other than my bae, on Valentine’s day, yet here we are. It’s only right, as during this series I am gushing over those that came before me that I say hello, hi and thank you so ever much to the Lady Of Soul.

Jenny Francis was at the helm of Choice FM for most of my life, it is no surprise that hers was the longest running commercial show of its kind. Being the place you would go to for the exclusive tunes, handpicked by someone who cared. If Jenny told you a song was a smash or an artist was worth your time, you listened and bought the cd.
I remember being a kid and sneaking a listen to The Slowdown Zone with my big sisters. They would text in every night with their shouts and swaying to the slow-jams that now make up about 60% of my listening habit on Spotify.

A few weeks ago, Jenny hosted a one-off special show on CapitalXTRA. She took over the airwaves for three hours and even though I was at dinner, I listened. I listened because the airwaves have been a little emptier without her velvet voice, I listened to see if she could still make me feel things and well. Yes, she can.
My good friend, fellow Sistem founder and CapitalXTRA colleague Leah Davis had the daunting task of doing a radio show after Jenny and she said the thing all of us have been thinking since we first approached a mic “how on earth do you follow on from that?”

Well, the answer is that you don’t. You put your head down and try your best to fill a fraction of those enormous shoes. When I started working on Capital XTRA, formerly known as Choice FM, the old stomping ground of my idol; I really felt the pressure. Not because I didn’t think I could do the job but because how do you compete with the memory of someone who is this amazing? Someone who to this day embodies the very essence of being a proper broadcaster? I mean, Jenny Francis said my name on air, because it was part of a station sell and I am 99% sure she has no idea who I am, but she said my name. And hearing her do so made me feel 13 again, using my Mum’s phone to text and hoping that I was one of the lucky few to get a shout out.

We talk a lot about representation, especially in 2020 but Jenny Francis, you are the very reason we exist, us radio girls. The Yinka & Shayna Marie’s, the Leah Davis’ and Remel London’s. The Clara Amfo’s and Tinea Taylor’s. It’s because of you. Scroll through any interview done with any Black British broadcaster over the last 10years and I owe you a pint if the name Jenny Francis isn’t mentioned.
It’s because of this that I feel like I am not speaking for only myself when I describe the respect and love we have for you. We only hope that our legacy’s are half as impressive as yours.

Thank you Jenny Francis, The Lady Of Soul, for being you.

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