| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Meet the 'Du woman'

Singer Frankie Alcala swaps baby blues for rhythm and blues

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How long have you been singing?
All my life! But professionally I’ve been singing for around 20 years now – in South-East Asia, Australia and now here. I sing every night except Mondays at Carters in Wafi. And I do commercials. (Looks bashful) In fact, I’m the ‘doo doo doo doo’ woman (the radio advert for Dubai-based telecom firm du).

Really? Sing it!
(Sings the jingle then bursts out laughing.) It’s so funny: I love jazz, soul, R&B, all sorts of music, yet everyone wants to hear the ‘du’ song!

Was it ever an option for you to stop singing?
When I was eight months pregnant, everyone was pleading with me to stop. I was so big, I was making them nervous when I belted out the high notes! I returned to singing when Bailey was three months old. At first I felt guilty. I’m originally from the Philippines and the culture there is more conservative, so I guess that rubbed off a little. I thought that being a good mum and a good wife would mean giving up singing and, particularly now I’ve turned 40, I thought: Frankie, slow down. But I didn’t really want to stop. The crunch, though, believe it or not, came when I was watching Oprah and she was talking about kids adapting to the parents’ lifestyle, not the other way round and I thought: You know, she’s got a point; and I decided then I would continue. I love my daughter but what if I stopped singing and just put everything into her? I’m not sure it would be good for her and I don’t think it would be good for me. I have to be me and do what I really love. I don’t think I can change it.

So how do you feel when you’re on stage?
It’s not that I feel different – I’m still Bailey’s mum even on stage – it’s just that, now, it’s Frankie’s time. I have to concentrate on singing and being professional. I had a lot of personal stuff going on recently – my mum being alone in the Philippines, the floods – so there was a lot going on in my head. But for three hours every night I put all that to one side and focused on my performance – the show must go on, and all that. It can only be good for my mental health. And I love looking out at the audience and seeing the people I entertain having a good time, and I enjoy the adult conversations about music.

So you feel more grown-up?
Yeah, during the day I’m a mum and a playmate for Bailey, although now she’s two you can have a normal conversation with her, which is hilarious. I take her to an arts and music programme during the day – she’s really musical, which I guess is understandable given her background. Her dad plays the trumpet and she knows what all the instruments are and what sounds they make – flute, trombone, tuba. It’s amazing to watch – I feel like I’m looking at a younger version of myself!

But are the late nights not tiring?
No. I finish singing at midnight during the week and by 1am at weekends, and my husband looks after Bailey on a Friday morning when our nanny is off, giving me an extra hour lie-in. It’s a routine and you get used to it.

Do you think singing makes you a better mum?
I’m really lucky that my schedule fits around Bailey. She’s asleep when I leave at night and I get to spend the whole day with her. But, yes, singing makes me happy, and if I’m happy, she’s happy, everyone’s happy. I love being a mum and I love singing. I have the best of both worlds. Being a mum is a miracle, but it’s important not to forget you still have a life.

Time Out Dubai,

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