FrankLee Anatra: Musical Dreamer

by Traci Nubalo

I arrived early at the studio. My friend and co-worker Netera Landar has a talk show - “The Netera Landar Chat” - on Metaverse TV and she had loaned me her living room set for this interview. I was anticipating finally meeting FrankLee Anatra, who I had admired musically for some time now.

When he tp-ed in our time together began with us sharing an unexpected laugh. It turns out that Netera’s set utilizes furniture designed and made by Franklee and his SL partner Winter Thorn. Chuckling, he took a seat on one of the sofas and demonstrated the guitar-player anims they had built into the units. Too funny!

When I first heard Anatra perform I was immediately attracted to that voice of his. It’s clear as a bell with great intonation and quite a few different possible tonal colorations. And when it’s needed, he artfully adds a gruff little vocal edge underneath.

This is by far not the singing of a noob; his is a pro voice all the way. The quality, the timbre and the overall execution brand him as a seasoned, veteran performer. As I watched Franklee ply his trade in his debut performance at the exciting new 50’s Rock and Roll sim I made a note to ask him about his musical background. But first he had to finish nailing yet another Second Life audience to the wall.

He powered into “Hey Soul Sister” from Train, not only doing the song justice but simultaneously claiming it as his own style-wise. And in a surprisingly-successful move, he shifted gears again. “Let’s do some Beatles by way of Joe Cocker,” he quipped as he slipped into the opening strains of the well-known-and-loved “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” - much to the delight of an audience that he had captured five minutes into his set.

I’ve since learned from hanging out at Franklee’s gigs that such a wide chronological and sylistic difference is not only commonplace for him, but expected. He employs one of the largest song lists I’ve ever seen: more than 225 great covers spanning several decades.

He took up the guitar as a bored 18-year-old army recruit stationed overseas. Upon returning home to Southern California he joined a doo-wop group called Slick City, the members of which would be his off-and-on bandmates until this day. They were heavy on covers and tight harmony vocals. “I played rhythm guitar. All four of us sang lead and harmonies depending on who brought the song. I can't stress enough how much I love harmonizing”, Anatra passionately reveals.

Apparently he loves it so much that he’s introduced the DigiTech Vocalist Live 3 Harmonizer into his tech setup. This enhances his lead vocals, which sit in the mix beside the clean, clear tones he’s getting from the Martin OMC-1E acoustic 6-string guitar that he loves so much. He uses a 1986-vintage AKG C535EB microphone for the vocals. He runs both guitar and vocals through the harmonizer to a 6-channel USB board and then to his laptop for streaming into SL.

Franklee has “turned the key” on the function of the harmonizer, in my opinion. He understands the equipment as well as he understands the music - another pro quality. He’s figured out that the most natural-sounding use of this item for today’s singer/songwriter is to drop it on the lead vocals with the lightest of touch. This prevents the resulting harmonies from suffering with that dreadfully-robotic sound that is heard far too often in contemporary pop music.

Once the “tech talk” ended, I learned that Franklee arrived in Second Life in 2007, and began gigging live in ‘08 at the urging of Thorn. Together they own and operate an inworld store called {what next} which designs and builds furniture for the SL market. Winter, attractive and funloving, is a mainstay at Franklee’s live gigs, and she plays a significant creative role in his craft. “The more current songs on my list are thanks to Winter, mostly," he mentions in a way that somehow allows me to almost see the loving smile on his face. "She has found music for me from some of the most amazing artists of today. I gravitate toward story lyrics, but melodies are what really stick in my mind. I don't care what genre name is tacked to a song; if it grabs me I don't judge it.”

Back at 50’s Rock and Roll the joint is jumping and Franklee treats the crowd to a gorgeous, harmony-heavy ballad “My Valentine”, from Paul McCartney’s most recent album Kisses on the Bottom. Whereas Sir Paul relies on Clapton’s superlative guitar work for color, Anatra puts the vocal harmonizer back in play, creating a gorgeous bouquet of stacked vocals. Then he gets the crowd up and dancing again when he launches into an original tune he calls “Me I Kinda Like It”, in which he salutes his doo-wop roots with a guitar-and-vocal piece that’s contemporary in its own right. He had the Live 3 warmed up at this point, and used it very artfully in a lovely reading of “Because”, from the Dave Clark Five.

I give this guy the highest marks on several levels: his is a wonderfully-sweet singing voice and he accentuates it with a clear, expressive guitar style. Add in that killer, multi-decade song list and some excellent originals, and he’s ready to take any SL venue by storm.

I can’t suggest strongly enough that if you are that rare SL music fan who has not seen Anatra perform live, head on out to his very next show. He’s filling top Second Life music rooms night after night, with his loyal and active fan group The Dreamers in tow. I asked Franklee to give them a shout out.

“I consider The Dreamers to be the biggest blessing when it comes to my singing. And I couldn’t have done it all without the help of my manager (and Number One Dreamer) Jbird Melodie. The people I've met don't even realize how much they affect my life and my love for music. It has nothing to do with lindens and everything to do with the Dreamers' hearts and ears. To know that there is someone out there I can brighten the day for, or make laugh, or have sing along with me is something I have always felt lucky to have.”

We - FrankLee Anatra’s fans - are the lucky ones.

You can reach FrankLee Anatra and his manager Jbird Melodie at

Traci Nubalo can be contacted inworld or on her award-winning blogsite
Traci Nubalo: The Word at

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The above article was originally written to appear in VMS Magazine. Unfortunately, when the piece appeared in print their alleged "editor" had taken it upon herself to delete some paragraphs, and cut/paste what was left into a final form that is only barely readable, and not even close to the professional standards which I try to bring to my work.

This blog version of the FrankLee piece is the ONLY CORRECT version.

My question to VMS is this: As a well-respected, award-winning journalist I'm wondering where the line is drawn. If I was an oil painter or sculptor, would you have "added paint" or "cut a few new gouges" into my work after the fact? And then, would you have hidden behind the word "editing" to justify your actions?

(c) Copyright Traci Nubalo 2012. All rights reserved


  1. What a wonderful write-up about a great talent. Franklee is the best all around talent I have had the pleasure of experienceing in years. When I can, I am always glad to attend one of his concerts. I do go to hear other artists in sl but am thoroughly addicted to listening to Franklee. THe hour flies by. Sometimes when I am working, my avi is attends a concert. It is a treat for me to listen to this tremendous performer, and I am pleased to say, I am a Dreamer.

    Evangileen Magic

  1. Thank you Evangileen! It's an indescribably good feeling to know my performances can reach your ears and brighten your days. Thanks for being a Dreamer!

    Traci, you're a true professional! Thank you so much for your article! I enjoyed our chat very much.

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