F.Stokes

F.Stokes

I’ve never been a huge fan of biographies. Historically, or perhaps only in the amazing world of rap music, bios have this way of glamorizing or sensationalizing points in the artist’s life that probably wouldn’t come off half as cool if said artist was “Fred the garbage man.” Instead, I opted to give out facts – sprinkled with statements – about myself that would hopefully give the consumer reason (or not) to support my journey in any way. Just my words, no fancy trimmings.

I was born on the South Side of Chicago to a single mother household. My father is serving a life sentence in prison for murder. I moved to Madison, Wisconsin at the age of 12. I lived in a one-room shelter with my mother and five brothers and sisters upon arriving to Madison. I didn’t get my own bedroom until I was well into my teens. Puberty was a constant wild goose hunt. I’ve sold drugs. I’ve carried guns. Some of my best friends run multi-million dollar, publicly traded, companies, and some of my best friends have killed people. Sometimes I appear less smart than I am. My mother is very proud of me as she makes a grand appearance to almost all of my shows back home. That lady has my heart in her pocketbook.

I moved to New York City with 30 dollars, and remnants of my mother’s broken heart on my hands. I rented a motel room in Harlem for 4 hours - allowing me enough time to shower, nap, and cry. My first week of living in New York, I befriended a flamboyantly gay bathroom attendant named James Armstrong - within my first 2 hours of watching James operate I'd learned more about life than I did in all of my years of existence. James taught me the importance of loving yourself before trying to convince others to. I’ve worked as a waiter. I’ve worked as a busboy. I’ve worked as a dishwasher. I’ve worked as a food-runner. I’ve worked as a bar-back. I’ve worked as a doorman. I’ve worked as a porter. I've slept on so many couches and floors my back hurts. 

I've had the wonderful blessing of playing in close to every state in America, mostly all of Europe, including Iceland and Australia multiple times. I try to tour Europe at least once a year. My favorite places (besides Madison, Wisconsin) to play are Paris and Vienna, Austria. As an African-American man, I feel as though Europeans, at times, appreciate my art slightly more than people do domestically. Black artist were allowed to tour Europe before we were allowed to eat in certain restaurants here in the states. Strange to even think that at one time Muddy Waters couldn't sit where he wanted in his home state of Mississippi, but could sell out any venue in Poland. Sometimes at 2, 3, 4 in the morning, I walk the streets of Paris and dream I'm Miles Davis in 1969. I am completely obsessed with touring. Whether it’s a packed show in Berlin, or a living room in Burlington, Vermont, I leave my soul on the stage. I truly believe that we all have the ability to save someone’s life. The motto I live by is: "Aspire, to Inspire." I don't even know you, but I love you.

I've been featured in publications all around the world, and have collaborated with musicians from all walks of life. My musical influences range from Patti Smith to Kanye West. Johnny Cash to Miles Davis. Gary Clark Jr. to Elvis. Music for me was never an option - but a necessity. My music is how I breathe. I'm grateful, and humbled, that I make a living living out my ideas. Hopefully one day we meet, as I look forward to learning from you. 

There wasn't a definitive moment in which I decided I would dedicate my life to music, it came naturally. Birds don't learn to fly, they just do it, baby.