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July 25, 1947 |
Hamtramck, Michigan, U.S.
After graduating from Michigan in 1969 with a degree in English literature, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts  to attend Episcopal Theological School. He left school to pursue a musical career, and has lived in New England ever since, currently residing in Peabody, Massachusetts.
In addition to his performing career, he teaches songwriting workshops and in 1990, wrote a set of songs for a ballet based on The Velveteen Rabbit. In 1999, the young adult novel Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger, in which Franke's song of the same name features heavily, was published. Many of his songs have been covered by other artists, including Kathy Mattea, June Tabor, Garnet Rogers, Claudia Schmidt, John McCutcheon, Peter, Paul and Mary, and others. Perhaps the most beautiful cover of his song, "Thanksgiving Eve" was by Isaac Guillory from the album, Slow down in 1992. Four of Franke's songs are included in Rise Up Singing, the important folk song collection ("Beggars to God", "The Great Storm is Over", "Hard Love", "Thanksgiving Eve").
Franke, a liberal Christian, often covers spiritual and personal themes in his songwriting. His song "Alleluia, The Great Storm Is Over" was written shortly after his young daughter's orthopedic condition was diagnosed, and he has said that he composed the song while working at a chocolate factory, and that the rhythm of the song was based on the rhythm of the machines. "Love Bravely, Elizabeth" is addressed to the same daughter, and the songs on his album, The Desert Questions, were written after his divorce. Some of his writing is political: the song "Kristallnacht is Coming" on his album The Heart of the Flower draws parallels between the Holocaust and Americans' attitudes towards immigrants during the 1990s, and "El Niño" (on The Desert Questions) protests Proposition 187.
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