Fran Scharett

Fran Scharett

BMHOF Class of 2003

Fran Scharett plays alto and tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet, and has been playing for over 60 years. She started her musical career giving penny whistle lessons to the neighborhood kids, and, in 1939, ended up winning a high school national music contest sponsored by Conn Instruments in New York City. Soon afterwards, Fran was recruited by Phil Spitalny and his All-Girl Orchestra. She played with his group from 1940 to 1942, performing a weekly radio show, called "G.E.’s Hour of Charm," and playing at theater circuits all across the United States, including Broadway. The group was also featured in a movie, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," and enjoyed media coverage in several national magazines.

In 1942, Fran left Spitalny and joined D’Artega’s All-Girl Orchestra. As part of the U.S.O., the band traveled all over Europe and the South Seas during and after World War II, entertaining the troops. She played with D’Artega’s group for four years, and appeared with the band in another war-time movie, called "You Can’t Ration Love." After the war, Fran joined a band formed by trumpeter Joy Cayler, who got an extension from the U.S.O. to continue playing for the military personnel who were still stationed in the Orient, and Fran finished the last six months of her overseas tour with this group. 

Fran’s musical career didn’t end after the war ended. After she returned to the United States, she formed a group with two sisters who were members of Joy Cayler’s band. They called themselves the Chordettes, and toured the northeastern part of the country and Alaska. Afterwards, Fran moved back home to Western New York and offered her musical talents and generous heart to her community. She directed an adult choir, called the "Suburban Serenaders," for 28 years. The group was part of Kenmore-Tonawanda’s adult education program and performed at nursing homes around the area. She also has deep affiliations with the Colored Musician’s Club in downtown Buffalo, playing with six of the club’s big bands over the years, and has performed with the Amherst Community Band and the Visionquest Community Christian Orchestra. Currently, she plays alto sax with the Ladies First Big Band and her own jazz trio. 

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