“I just love the rubba dub romantic vibe music.”
– Mr. Lover’s Rock
Tuskani Franco, may not be a household name on the mainland U.S. (yet), but the mere mention of his name on the island of St. Crox is bound to bring a smile and it may even incite a person to break out in song and dance. That alone speaks to the essence of the man, also known as Mr Lovers Rock.
A New Yorker by birth, Tuskani moved to St. Croix with his mother at the age of four following the divorce of his parents but makes it clear, “I am a Cruzan, yes si!” On the island, he has worn many hats from being an HVAC technician to a firefighter and even a handyman, but seeing him in action on stage, his true calling cannot be denied.
So where does the name Mr Lovers Rock come from? “My music is a combination of reggae, R&B, and soul and I must give respect to those who were doing it long before I. There’s Teddy Pendergrass, Issac Hayes, Beres Hammond, Alton Ellis, Gregory Isaacs and so on. Ultimately, I combined my two loves – music and poetry. Yes, I used to write poetry in school. It used to bring the girls close, you know? In a nutshell, it’s simply soulful reggae.”
Now if you know anything about soulful music, you know it has an incredible, almost magnetic draw on women but Tuskani remains unbothered. For him, it’s a simple matter of maturity and contentment. He has known his wife since elementary school, knows his passion is in performing and knows she is his and he is hers (alone). He does make it very clear that it can be demanding and even stressful, but he and his wife share a love that can get through any of the ups and downs the industry may throw their way. “I love my wife. Those beautiful hazel eyes”, he grins.
Offstage, Tuskani exists as a gentle giant of mellow demure, a family and community minded man but upon taking the stage a transformation occurs. The brother can sing, moving seamlessly between R&B tones and reggae riddims, crowd hanging on every chorus. The aforementioned influences are clear and present with no doubt in the mind of fans he could exist as R&B or reggae but chooses to dwell in both.
What of Tuskani’s body of work? “I’m not new to this. In the past I’ve toured with Maxi Priest and Yellow Man in the U.S. and in regular rotation on the radio in the USVI with much respect to the DJs who support us. Blessings! This new CD will be my 11th release in the Lovers Rock series. I just love the rubba dub romantic vibe music. There are some originals, but I love doing covers and most fans have no problem with my doing covers as long as I execute them correctly. My favorites? I love covering Teddy Pendergrass and Beres Hammond.”
What many listeners and fans of Tuskani do not realize is that his upcoming project is not his first time at bat. In fact, there have been eleven (11) CDs in his popular Lovers Rock series; all of which are being sampled and played not only in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but abroad in the UK, Canada and beyond. Tuskani never takes that for granted. In his eyes, his fans are better than money. “There was a time when all I could think about was a record deal but that ‘making it mentality’ got in the way of making music and even took away from my enjoying what I was doing. After living on the mainland for a few years, my wife and I realized just what we were missing and what we left behind and with that, we booked a ticket back to St. Croix (to never leave again). As long as I get to sing and perform, I’m good”.