“Everything started the night of my bar mitzvah in Paris, when they handed me the mic,” Francky Perez explains.
“Everything started the night of my bar mitzvah in Paris, when they handed me the mic.”Francky Perez
During the party, after he delivered his set speech to family and friends, Perez simply held on to the mic and launched forth.
“I spent the whole evening emceeing my party – it just came naturally to me,” he says.
After this seminal event, Perez bought a microphone with his gift money. From then on, his path was set. For the next year, he practiced assiduously.
The beginning of a career
“I was doing ‘no audience’ radio shows all night long with a headphone, six hours every night. Nobody was listening. My wall was plastered with carpet and empty egg boxes to reduce the noise.
“I was also practicing drums on a pad. I used my lunch money to take drum lessons from a private teacher.”
True, his parents and teachers wondered why the teenager’s eyes were always dark-rimmed and he gained no weight, but nobody in the small three-bedroom apartment suspected what was going on, not even his younger sister.
As part of “living my passion and my dream,” Perez also sneaked off to Eastbourne, UK, on a solo trip to hear legendary jazz drummer Buddy Rich perform. Only when he ferried over the rough seas and foggy Channel to return home to Paris did he realize that maybe he had gone too far this time.
When he turned 14 and had Wednesday afternoons off school, Perez hung out at different radio stations, offering to make coffee and help out, while keenly observing the scene. This was the beginning of radio FM with stations mainly staffed by volunteers.
“One day I told them I could do the technician’s part working the turntables, and they agreed,” he says. “Once the DJ didn’t show up, and they asked me to fill in. I was fully prepared and knew this was my moment.
“Then I heard there was a Jewish radio station. After applying there, I had my own show on Wednesday afternoons.”
After a woman heard him introducing the songs, she invited him to DJ for a family event. To his surprise, he “got paid for doing something I was totally in love with!”
Though his career had in effect begun, nonetheless Perez took his education seriously, finished his rigorous high school program and passed all exams.
He then went to business school in Paris, completed an MBA in Dallas, Texas, and stayed on in the US. Although he was always involved in the world of entertainment, working as a DJ and MC alongside his studies, he still did not consider this personal dynamic as a career. However, as band leader he was sufficiently versatile to fill in on most instruments if a player went missing.
Only after his return to Paris in 2002 did Perez make a switch from business professional to full-time entertainer. He made a name for himself as MC for major Jewish events and as a radio host. French Jewish radio station RCJ 94.8 FM elected him several times as their No. 1 radio host.
Highlights of his career were “traveling worldwide for the celebration of the 3,000th anniversary of Jerusalem, a wedding in Shanghai, a bar mitzvah in Geneva, and an Israel Independence Day ceremony facing the Eiffel Tower and 30,000 people.”
Israel was always a primary focus for Perez.
He recalls his father as “the most Zionist person I have ever met, with such a deep love for the Holy Land – always tuned in to the latest news from Israel.”
In 2007, when preparing to make aliyah with his family, Perez got an email from Los Angeles. Phil Blazer, founder of the JLTV station, wanted an English version of his French “Hatikvah” (The Hope) song as soon as possible – it had been chosen as the official European anthem for Independence Day.
“He invited me to come to LA for a year to develop new content,” explains Perez. In 2009 he became a TV show host and associate producer for JLTV.
In all, he remained in California for 15 years. Though his two oldest sons had already made aliyah, Perez’s three youngest children grew up in LA and attended Jewish schools there, while he was active as a media personality – writing, singing, producing and doing business development.
Videos of original Perez creations can be found on YouTube, such as the Israeli-platinum hit “Hineni” with rapper Subliminal in 2004. In 2013 he was nominated for the Genesis Prize for “Never Forget,” an educational rap song in memory of the Holocaust. He also made an album in Cuba with Latin overtones starring the vivacious and vibrant Candela, called Tel Aviv-Habana. A song from that popular album, “Havana Guila” (remember “Hava Nagila”?) was a major hit.
Although Perez’s wife and daughters came to Israel to stay a year ago, he commuted to and fro until his son finished high school in LA.
Now that he has arrived to stay, he plans to continue working as a DJ and MC for private events in the American and French communities here. He is also publishing his first book – Le Pouvoir de Soi – about self-development and positive thinking.
Looking back on his years of experience, this media master comments: “The true gift of that journey is to be able to share, witness and participate in important events of people’s lives. Music can be that channel where unique memories are created.”
Francky Perez From Los Angeles to Ra’anana, September 2021