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Beat Happenings: the Singing Psychic hits the stage

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When Jeff Cory was trying to make arrangements to bring Fran Baskerville to Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art for a November 10 gig, the singer's manager balked. "Y'know, with air travel being the way it is right now, nobody knows what's going to happen," he said.

Cory, Intuit's executive director, scratched his head. "If she doesn't know what's going to happen," he asked, "who does?" Baskerville, after all, is the Singing Psychic. She claims to have a 95 percent accuracy rate, to have found more than 9,000 missing persons, and to have predicted last year's election victories by George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton.

"Aw, don't listen to him," Baskerville said when Cory finally got her on the line. "He's just nervous. I'll be OK."

Born and raised in Dallas, Baskerville started singing when she was nine years old. "I played by ear," she says. "I sang at funerals and things like that." As time went by, she bought a Gibson Firebird and attached a wah-wah pedal.

But she didn't know she had psychic powers until the day her Impala was hit by an 18-wheeler backing out of a lumberyard. The truck smashed the roof of the car and dumped part of its load on top of her. Then it dragged her for a block. "I guess I must have passed out," Baskerville says. "I know I saw a tunnel. For a moment in time I could hear everything in eternity. I heard angels and all my relatives." After the accident she developed chronic bronchitis and heart problems. She also started having visions. "I had never even heard the word 'psychic' before that," she says. "It took me a couple of years to start believing in it."

She started sharing her visions with family and friends, and soon people were stopping her on the street to ask what was in store for them. "The doctors say my pituitary gland was stimulated and that's what gave me my psychic ability," she says. "God had to hit me over the head with a lumber truck to get my attention."

In 1981 she went to work for police departments around the nation, helping search for missing kids. In 1991 she opened a paranormal detective agency "specializing in missing children, insurance claims, surveillance, divorce, and background checks." Today she does up to six radio shows a day by telephone, taking calls from listeners who ask her to find missing people or things. She sings her responses. "After the accident, things came to me in song," she says. "It comes right off the top of my head."

She's issued three CDs, the first in 1985. The latest, Songs From Beyond (1999), covers subjects ranging from JFK's assassination to Michael Landon. She describes her music as "a brand-new sound, a little country and a little rock to it." On Songs From Beyond her own lyrics are recorded over recognizable tracks from well-known songs like "Ode to Billy Joe" and "Splish Splash." She explains, "I recorded some of them at home, on a sing-along."

Baskerville will open for Cordell Jackson--the "rock 'n' roll grandma," best known nowadays for her 1992 Budweiser commercial with Brian Setzer--Saturday night in the last show of Intuit's Intuitive Music Series. Show time is 9 PM at Intuit, 756 N. Milwaukee; cover is $12. Call 312-243-9088.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Mark Graham.

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