Born Cree Summer Francks, on July 7, 1969
, to Don Francks
and Red Pheasant
, in Los Angeles
. Her father was a jazz
musician and actor
, but he didn't want his children growing up in Hollywood
, so they moved to Saskatchewan
, on a plains Cree Indian reservation
- where her father built a mud hut
with his bare hands. They lived like the other people on the reservation, without electricity
or running water
, and her parents handled all of her education
She made many friends on the reservation, and fully participated in the activities, such as Pow Wows, and became quite familiar with horseback riding. The music from the reservation would remain a large influence for her music. It didn't last long, as when she was six, the Canadian government realized they were living there tax-free, and they were forced to move. They moved around a for a little while, staying in an old school bus, a stable, a commune known as Music Church, and the basement in a friend's house. Eventually they ended up in Toronto, Ontario, where she first attended a real school for fourth grade.
Because of her father's connections and help, Cree got started doing voices for cartoons, such as the voice of Penny on Inspector Gadget from 1983-1985. She also joined her first band at age 13.
She made it into the Toronto High School For The Performing Arts for a few years, but dropped out when she was 16, spending time at Toronto-area clubs singing, with such acts as The Maxx and Mystique. A little later on, at age 18, she moved to Los Angeles while continuing to do voices for cartoons and playing music, and became involved in acting. When she left, her father told her "Don't ever lose your Indian. Never forget where you came from. Art is a gift and if nobody hears it, that doesn't make it any less of a gift." She soon scored a part in the sitcom A Different World, in the role of Freddie Brooks, which she is still best known for. When Jasmine Guy from the series released her album, Cree did backup vocals on two of the tracks.
In 1994, Cree helped to form the group Subject to Change, and was in the role of lead singer and songwriter. The group toured some with Fishbone and Gin Blossoms, and put together an album, Womb Amnesia. However, the album was never released by their label, Capitol Records, and the group was dropped. After this severe disappointment, Cree stopped listening to music for an entire year.
In 1998, thanks to a number of close friends in the music industry, she managed to tour as an opening act for Lenny Kravitz, Black Crowes, and Everlast, and gained a lot of interest for her dynamic live performance. She also made it into a few dates for Lilith Fair. With the help of Lenny Kravitz, she recorded a solo album, Street Faerie, which was released on April 20, 1999 - one of the songs on the album, "Miss Moon", also features Kravitz, and was written for longtime friend Lisa Bonet.
"Lyrically, I'm inspired by urban fantasy/fiction, Elf Quest comix, Sonia Sanchez, Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Dorothy Parker," she says.
Cree Summer - http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Vine/4993/
Cree summer - http://www.creesummer.com
The Internet Movie Database - http://www.imdb.com