This is the 100th post in the 350 Jersey Songs series — only 250 to go! — and to mark the occasion, we’re featuring a singer who isn’t always mentioned in discussions of New Jersey’s most important musical icons, but really should be. Connie Francis, who grew up in Newark and Belleville, was a constant presence on the pop charts from 1957 to 1964, specializing in elegant ballads that often expressed heartbreak but also resiliency. Her big voice was a marvel, and though she could sing rock — listen to her hit version of Neil Sedaka’s “Stupid Cupid” if you doubt it — she usually stayed focused on the ballads, and ethnic music that made her a star in many other countries besides the United States.
Below is her first big hit and one of her signature songs, “Who’s Sorry Now?”
Since the early ’70s, Francis has been active only intermittently. She has struggled with mental illness and vocal problems, and was also the victim of a 1974 rape (which she wrote about in her 1984 memoir, “Who’s Sorry Now?”). She is now 76, and is not retired (though her public performances have become rare), and remains devoted to charities benefiting war veterans.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday from Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. The complete list is here.