Frank D’Angelo Being Frank

Frank D’Angelo  Being Frank

Submitted by Don Graham

Frank D’Angelo: singer, songwriter,TV host, actor, producer, director, restauranteur, chef, businessman, and I’m sure I’m missing a couple of activities, is an energetic, resourceful and talented  man. Sitting across from him at a table in his restaurant, Mamma D’s, I am struck by the focus in his eyes and his attention to detail. The consummate host, even for a meeting where he is the one being interviewed, he made sure the mood was right for an in depth conversation about his life so far and his current projects. The food was incredible and the background music was Frank’s recordings, played at a low level, until something came on that we needed to hear ,then it was cranked. And man did this stuff sound good. Frank D’Angelo is a talented singer, with a Motown influence and a touch of the great Bill Withers finding its way into Frank’s music. Frank D’Angelo is also an excellent songwriter.

When asked how and when he got interested in music Frank said, “I was always into music, loved it. I guess at about 16 years old I had to make a choice between hockey and music so I got a band together and starting touring and recording. We were a good band, played to packed houses but I got tired of the road and decided to shelve it for a while and get into business.”

D'Angelo's beginning in the food industry started when he worked for his father who owned Napoli foods until they were sold to Saputo a year later. D'Angelo is founder and president of D'Angelo Brands, Inc., which produces and markets beverages and some canned food items in Canada. It started in 1986 by selling apple juice door-to-door, and the company quickly grew to success with the financial backing of Canadian politician, Al Palladini. He developed his company after a chance encounter with David Stewart, the CEO of the Loblaws  supermarket chain.

But the entertainment business has and always will be a passion for Frank D’Angelo. “My band now is a full band, usually 18 pieces, full horn section. They really cook and I love singing with them behind me.” Indeed D’Angelo’s live show is a high energy, “zero to a hundred in no time flat, attention grabbing juggernaut.”  These guys rock any venue they play. “We just set attendance records at the Taste of the Danforth this year. You couldn’t move or even find a place to stand!” Frank beamed. I got the feeling he expected no less from himself than to draw a record crowd.

His latest CD, “Just Give Me One More Moment,” which coincidently is the soundtrack for the award winning movie ‘Real Gangsters’ that D’Angelo produced, directed, wrote and acted in; the man does it all. The first single from the CD was the title track which hit a very respectable #6 on the FMQB AC Chart in the United States, in the same stratosphere as multiplatinum artists Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson. “Dreamer” was the next single released and it went Top 40 AC in the States and picked up a lot of airplay in Canada, including the CBC Radio Network.

This whole album is a great body of work and shows D’Angelo’s growth as a singer and a songwriter. Along with co-producer and co-writer Rob DeBoer the sound has evolved and  is sounding like a well oiled hit making unit. “It’s True” starts the album off and sounds like an easy listening hit. There’s a definite Smokey Robinson influence in “Now” and the vocal performance is superb. “Break It Down” was a great choice to release next, a definite turntable hit. All ten songs on the “Just Give Me More Moment” track list stand up to the quality of each other. There isn’t a weak track on the list. Bravo boys, well done.

Then Mr D. takes off the studio headphones and puts his director/actor hat for the award winning movie Real Gangsters. A D’Angelo brainchild, he co-wrote the screenplay with Phillip Morton but the story idea is actually Frankie’s.

Real Gangsters tells the story of the Lo Giacamo family, one of the most successful crime syndicates in New York City. Run by cousins Vincent Lo Giacamo (Nick Mancuso) and Jack Lo Giacamo (Frank D'Angelo) Real Gangsters shows how these two men maintain control of their dangerous extended family and volatile business ventures by very different means. Vincent is the politician, the man who always has a plan to help keep the peace, find common ground, bind blood and commerce and grow the family into a billion dollar empire. Jack is the muscle, the hot head, ruthless and uncompromising he lives in the moment and executes his actions based on how he feels. Unfortunately for these two men, these two philosophies don't always work together.

The film has picked up awards at the 'Action on Film International Film Festival' in Pasadena California including Best Teleplay, Best Screenplay, Best Soundtrack and Best Picture. The film was nominated for a total eight awards including Best Supporting Actress for Margot Kidder's role.

The film has now won awards at two consecutive film festivals, most recently winning best Canadian movie at the Italian Contemporary Film Festival in Toronto. Not bad for a first stab at the movie business by Frank. “I always loved the movies. Years ago I auditioned for a part and the guy really liked me but said I was too young for the part. No big deal! He gave the part to Nick Mancuso instead and now I’m making movies with Nick. Life is good. “

Movies, music, D’Angelo Brands….tired yet? Frankie’s not ! Besides these time consuming careers, Frank has written a hit book ‘Being Frank’, detailing his early life in Toronto to the present and then because there are still some hours left in the day he hosts the very popular TV show The Being Frank Show an  interview format show on CHCH Hamilton and Metro 14 in Montreal and on Rogers on Demand.

I get the feeling Frank D’Angelo sleeps with one eye open so he doesn’t miss anything, if he sleeps at all.

And for all this going on his life you might think he would be scrambling around, always in a hurry and not have much time for people. Just the contrary. In the short time I was  in his small, private restaurant in Mississauga (he also owns and operates Forget About Supper Club on King Street West in Toronto) at least  four people stopped by to say hello and tell Frank how much they enjoyed his TV show, his restaurant, his beverages (btw the Pure Genius cucumber and the cantaloupe water are amazing) his music and in each case Frank graciously thanked them for their support and wished them well.

When our interview concluded Frank said “Thank you for your time but I really have to go, I’m on TV in three minutes!”  Gracious and humble and talented. Keep on rockin’ Frankie, you are a star!