This year August will mark the 20th anniversary of Dr. Frances Opeolu Folorunsho Kuboye’s death. For those who can’t remember who she was, let’s quickly remind you that she was a brilliant and creative Dentist and a popular singer. She and her husband, Tunde Kuboye, for many years ran Jazz 38 on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos before they relocated to Lekki, Phase 1
Fran Kuboye passed away on 21st August 1997. She is related to the Ransome Kuti family. She passed away during a brief illness. Her untimely death came as a surprise as it happened just a few days after her Uncle, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, passed away. Soon after – she was buried, her cousin Sola Anikulapo Kuti, also passed away. That meant 3 deaths in the family in 1997.
Born to the same Ransome Kuti family of late Prof. Olikoye, Fela, Beko and their sister called Dolupo Ransome Kuti in England, Fran who is Dolupo’s daughter was named after her grandmother, Funmilayo Frances Ransome Kuti. Frances grew up in England and studied Dentistry at University of Sheffield. Apart from practising dentistry in Nigeria and the Uk, she was also known for being a wife, mother, singer, Tv personality, sax player, piano player and art painter. One of her more prominent Tv roles included hosting the Arts segment of the Sunday Show with Livi Ajuonuma (now late). She also appeared as a Talent Judge on many musical contest shows.
As her grandmother, Fran championed and advocated Womens’ rights in her own way. She set up a non-profit organisation with Yemisi Ransome-Kuti called Girl Watch to empower less privileged secondary school students on gender equality and social misnorms in African culture. Using the Arts and Crafts, young female students were taught about the dangers of female genital mutilation as well as the importance of using education to achieve gender equality. She also ran another programme called TREE in My Life (Trees Rights Environment Empowerment), which used tree planting, music and arts as a way to teach students about the impact of seeds sewn through actions taken.
Dr. Frances Kuboye was born in Rochdalle, north of England, on October 22, 1949. She had her primary education at Clifton Church of England School, Carnforth and Lancashire Church of England School. She later proceeded to Lancaster Girls Grammar School, England, from where she moved to Skipton Girls High School, England where she completed her secondary education. From there, she went to Sherffield University, where she qualified as a Dental Surgeon in 1974. Frances Kuboye came home in 1977, but didn’t get into Music until a year later when in 1978, she yielded to the inner urge to sing and promote music. From music she moved gradually into the world of the arts, and by 1980, Frances Kuboye had become so active on the field that it soon became part and parcel of her identity.
The 1970s saw the emergence of Jazz 38 in Lagos, with The Extended Family Jazz Band of Fran and Tunde Kuboye on duty. The venue became the most important jazz hub in the country. The Extended Family was fronted by vocalist, Fran Kuboye, who demonstrated a vocal range comparable to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan or Billy Holiday. The other members of the band were Tunde Kuboye on bass and Emmanuel Ngomalio and Duro Ikujenyo alternating on piano. Fela and his son, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti, occasionally appeared as guest artists in the early 1980s to give the club a boost.