Shining at a showcase event: Former Lynn English star Jessica French impresses at Governor’s inauguration party

Perhaps it was fitting that the biggest moment in Jessica French’s rising career as a Boston DJ came at the TD Garden during an event that had a distinctive basketball theme.

French, known professionally as DJ Frenchy, was tabbed by legendary event planner Bryan Rafanelli to provide music at the inaugural celebration for Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll Jan. 5 at the TD Garden.

French was part of an amazing star-studded event that featured a crowd-pleasing performance by singer and songwriter Brandi Carlile. The theme of the event was “Moving The Ball Forward,” a nod to the great basketball careers of Maura Healey, who was a captain at Harvard and played professionally, and Kim Driscoll, the Salem mayor who helped lead Salem State to a 29-1 record and the NCAA Division 3 national championship in 1986.

Jessica French played the game very well, too, scoring more than 750 points as a 6-foot center in Kathy Toups’ Lynn English program. 

The DJ for an historic event

The inauguration of Maura Healey and Kim Driscoll was historic as they became the first women to serve together as a team in the top two constitutional offices. More than 6,000 people attended the inaugural party.

Jessica said she was humbled to be contacted for the job as DJ by Rafanelli, who has planned mega-events such as the weddings of Chelsea Clinton and Naomi Biden.

“I got recommended for the job, and  Bryan’s event planning team reached out to me,” said Jessica. “Everything worked out great. The inaugural party was my biggest gig ever. I set many goals for myself and playing music at the TD Garden was at the end of my list, because it seemed so far-fetched. I’ll be playing at the House of Blues, so it’s a little surreal for me.” 

Jessica said her role was to provide the musical entertainment for the pre-show and between appearances by Todd Angilly of Lynnfield, the Springfield Sci-Tech and Everett High bands, the Boston Arts Academy, Abilities Dance Company, Witch Pitch, OOMPA, and the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus.

Jessica said she also enjoyed the event as a resident of Massachusetts, appreciating the inspiring speeches made by Gov. Healey and Lt. Gov. Driscoll.

“I love the things that she wants to do as governor,” said Jessica. “I love how she has integrated what she learned in basketball into her life and her goals as governor. She has tremendous energy. She has a lot of courage and I look up to that.”

Her start as a disc jockey

Jessica French began performing as a DJ at Fran’s Place in Lynn. “I was part of the event promoting team and I was asked for some input, and I suggested hiring a new DJ,” recalled French. “The lead promoter let me be the DJ. I was not great then, but I’ve definitely come a long way since then.”

Now 35 years old, Jessica is in high demand as a DJ on the Boston club scene. She is the resident DJ at two clubs in Boston.

“Just playing music and seeing people dance brings me a lot of joy,” said Jessica. “I’m super grateful to be where I am today, to have the residencies and the status in the community that I have. I worked so hard for this.”

She also works at a solar company in Billerica.

A solid career 

at Lynn English

French began playing “serious basketball” as a member of the Boys and Girls Club of Lynn.

“Jeff [Hill] and Amy [Croce] taught me the fundamentals and put the fire under me to want to get more into basketball,” said Jessica.

As a freshman at Lynn English, French split her season between junior varsity and varsity. She said Kathy Toups was a big influence in her wanting to improve her skills.

“Her coaching style definitely drove me to want to be a better player,” recalled Jessica.  

French tore the ACL in her left knee before her sophomore season at English, causing her to miss several games. “It happened two weeks before the season, and when I returned, I played with a brace on my knee.” 

French became an All-Star player in the Northeastern Conference in her junior and senior seasons, averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds per game.

With confidence, she says, “I’m pretty sure I would have reached 1,000 points if I didn’t hurt my knee and miss half my sophomore season,” said French, who played alongside such teammates as Melinda Kidney, Tiara Bingham, and Renee Hamilton.

“We won some games, but back then the competition was not easy. Lynn Classical had Monique Lee, Paula McGinn, and Takeya Faison. Gloucester and Swampscott were strong.”

French said she still gets nervous when she remembers her battles at center with Classical’s Monique Lee, an All-Scholastic player under Coach Gene Constantino who went on to excel at Quinnipiac.

“I still remember the days that I would be tense, knowing that I was going to have to cover Monique,” said French. “I played AAU on the Mass Thundercats with Monique and traveled to D.C. with the team. I learned so much basketball from [coaches] Marvin Avery and Jim Ridley and being teammates with those girls.”

French was also a starting infielder for the Lynn English softball team led by head coach Alisa Fila.

She played two seasons at Bunker Hill Community College, earning All-Region honors while leading the team to the regional semifinals.

“I played guard at Bunker Hill,” said French. “Everyone was really good in basketball in college.”

Jessica said she is grateful for support from her partner and her family, including her son, Jeremiah, and her father, Ernie French, her stepmother, Amy Durant.

“I just want to remain humble and be grateful for where I am today in my life,” said Jessica.

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