As the long wait for new Frank Ocean music continues, fans were treated to a blast-from-the-past this week when an almost two decade-old video of the Blonde crooner singing at his high school graduation surfaced online.
The two-minute clip finds a 17-year-old Frank (who was known as Christopher Breaux back then) performing his school’s alma mater in front of the audience at the Class of 2005 graduation ceremony at John Ehret High School in Marrero, Louisiana.
After being introduced by a classmate who struggles to pronounce his surname, a young Frank takes to the podium wearing a blue cap and gown and showcases the very singing talent that would turn him into one of the most acclaimed artists of his generation.
Footage of Frank Ocean singing at his high school graduation has surfaced on YouTube 17 years later. pic.twitter.com/dyeeAn8EUx
— Brenton (@BrentonBlanchet) June 29, 2022
The video was unearthed earlier this month by a former John Ehret student named Daymond Burditt and shared on Twitter by music journalist Brenton Blanchet, whose tweet has over 2,000 retweets and 20,000 likes.
Blonded Blog, a website and social media channel that calls itself “the preeminent archive of Frank Ocean news, history, and esoterica on the net,” said it’s a “safe bet” it’s the earliest recording of Frank that exists.
“Not a lot of footage prior to 2008/9 when he began writing professionally and working with MIDI Mafia,” they tweeted. “This was an incredible find.”
The viral video spawned more interesting revelations from Frank Ocean’s high school days, including the fact that fellow R&B crooner and Louisiana native Lucky Daye also attended John Ehret High School. (Daye is only two years older than Frank, so it’s possible they attended the school at the same time.)
My new favorite music fact just dropped. Lucky Daye and Frank Ocean went to high school together.
I love the internet, man. https://t.co/DOqPw3kdX3
— Brenton (@BrentonBlanchet) June 30, 2022
One Muslim woman who was also a schoolmate of Frank’s remembered the future Grammy-winner standing up for her one day when other students made fun of her religious head-covering.
“I went to school with Chris (Frank Ocean),” she remembered. “So, I used to wear a Hijab at John Ehret High School, and post 9/11, I got picked on a lot . Well Chris actually stood up for me one day . He was a quiet kid and we didn’t even know each other , but I’m forever grateful.”
I went to school with Chris (Frank Ocean).
So, I used to wear a Hijab at John Ehret High School??, and post 9/11, I got picked on a lot . Well Chris actually stood up for me one day . He was a quiet kid and we didn’t even know each other , but I’m forever grateful ?❤️??
— Sammar Elsunni (@BlackArabQueen) June 30, 2022
In a 2019 interview with W Magazine, Frank Ocean reflected on his high school experience, admitting he got into trouble frequently.
“I didn’t have a deep affection for authority,” he said. “I was expelled and suspended it felt like every five minutes, every school year until I became obsessed with figuring out how to make a career in music. And that interest fostered a different mentality.
“I think it was also around the transition to becoming a teenager, and I got really calm. My mom comments on that fairly often. I feel like I still had a lot of inner chaos, but I didn’t express it the same way. So that probably was noticeable.”
After graduating from high school, Frank Ocean enrolled at the University of New Orleans to study English. When Hurricane Katrina wreaked the city, he transferred to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette before dropping out to pursue music.
Frank later relocated to Los Angeles where he got his start in the music industry penning songs for the likes of Justin Bieber, John Legend and Brandy under the name Lonny Breaux. Def Jam came knocking in 2009, but the label largely ignored him until he self-released his nostalgia, ULTRA mixtape in 2011.
Combined with his affiliation with Tyler, The Creator’s ascendant Odd Future collective, the mixtape created a buzz that culminated in the release of his Grammy-winning debut album Channel Orange the following year.
As for his new album — the eagerly anticipated follow-up to 2016’s Blonde — Frank Ocean was reportedly shopping the project to various labels last September, but there’s been little by way of updates since then.