Singer and guitarist Heston Francis, known simply as Heston to his fans, brings a touch of the Caribbean to his latest album, Warm Human, Cold World.
Heston’s introduction to the music world came through a radio in his native Dominica. He says he gained an appreciation for singing and songwriting after years of listening to the island’s one and only radio station.
“For me, growing up, there was DBS Radio which was one station," he explains. "Now they have a few others. We didn’t have much choice as far as selecting whether we wanted to listen to a jazz station or a rock station. It was everything playing from Barbra Streisand to Barry Gibb and the Bee Gees to Paul McCartney. [McCartney’s] ‘Say, Say, Say’ was a big influence of mine; Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, Al Green’s gospel. Everything played. Bob Marley was played on that one radio station, Kenny Rogers. So my influences are vast as far as the music that I grew up listening to on that one station.”
Heston says in addition to being influenced by the music he heard growing up, he finds inspiration in John Mayer's songs.
“Musically, my influence stayed with me as a kid, because even today, I’m still very much open," he notes. "John Mayer is a very big music influence for me. I think he’s very raw and passionate with his music. There’s a lot of space in it and I appreciate that. I listened to Berris Hammond who is a reggae artist from the Caribbean, which is one of my biggest vocal and musical and lyrical influences. So I appreciate all the music.”
Heston came to the U.S. when he was 10 years old and eventually settled in Atlanta, Georgia. He was in his twenties when he began performing live, a self-taught musician who says writing songs always came to him naturally.
“Everything that I’ve written has come from real-life experiences or something that I’ve been connected or close to," he explains. "And I’m able to fortunately be able to put it on paper and put it to music. So they’re just stories, my stories.”
Fueling the “stories” on Warm Human, Cold World is the age-old theme that love conquers all.
“That album stems from a relationship that I experienced, which was magnificent at times and tough at times," explains Heston. "But, it just told me how valuable navigating life with someone else would be better than doing it on your own. I think this place is a very cold place; it’s a concrete jungle. I think it’s just an easier way to navigate life with someone who actually cares.”
In January, Heston and his band appeared at the historic Apollo Theater in New York City. He was recently in Washington, DC where he performed two sold-out shows at Blues Alley.