I learned to sing using YouTube – and now it’s my career
Frankie Mack was working as a holiday rep in Tenerife when a recently-bereaved man asked him to sing his late wife’s favourite song on stage.
He spent all afternoon practising for the evening show, then gave it his best shot.
“I was absolutely terrible,” he says. “I’m embarrassed at how bad I was at singing.”
But his performance of Dean Martin’s Little Ole Wine Drinker Me went down so well with the widower and the hotel guests it set Frankie on a new course.
He set about learning how to sing by watching YouTube videos – and he now earns a living as a professional singer.
The 28-year-old, from Edinburgh, taught himself by searching for breathing tips and vocal exercises.
“I would also study how my favourite singers such as Robbie Williams, Fred Astaire and Michael Buble would sing, and even their mannerisms,” he says.
“I was learning a song a week until I had about 45 minutes worth of material.”
At the age of 22, he finished the season in Tenerife and flew back to the UK, where he auditioned for a singing job on a cruise ship.
However, 13 people auditioned and Frankie was the only one who did not receive a job offer.
He went back to Edinburgh and was sitting in a pub in Leith when he told the bar owner of his bad luck at missing out on the cruise ship jobs.
“She told me I was not to give up,” he says. “I was to buy some equipment and do it myself.
“She then said I could even sing in her pub every Friday.”
Frankie bought a speaker and a microphone and started singing in her pub, then in care homes in the area.
“I absolutely loved it,” he says. “I loved singing in the care homes and loved meeting people.”
Frankie decided to fly back to Tenerife as a singer, where he ended up winning best newcomer at the Tenerife Entertainment Awards in 2019.
“All the singers and entertainers in the Canaries enter this award, so to win best newcomer was just incredible – especially after teaching myself from YouTube in such a short space of time,” he says.
His social media followers surged and he decided to try to make it in the US.
He entered the Reel Awards in Las Vegas in 2020, where he won the rising star accolade for his swing tribute.
The Vegas Reel Awards are held over three days for hundreds of singers and impersonators from around the world. Frankie performed six songs in his set.
“This was the point I realised I belonged on a stage,” he says.
“I was bringing joy to the audience and it felt like it was the reason why I’m here in the world.”
Frankie has returned to Scotland as part of a 15-date UK tour. He will then go back out to Tenerife where he has been working for three years.
He also has a Facebook Live page where about 20,000 fans watch him do a show every Sunday.
“I’m recognised all the time when I’m walking in the street all over the UK, it’s very overwhelming and surprising,” he says.
“It’s a weird sensation when people you don’t know start speaking to you like they know you.
“They know that I grew up in Leith and that I was a shy overweight teenager. Just a few years ago I wasn’t even a singer.”
Frankie now has a string of swing and jazz songs in his repertoire.
A video of the time he sang with Michael Buble at one of the star’s shows has reached more than 87,000 views on social media.
Frankie says he had met the singer at a hotel pool – that video has had 1.4 million views.
“He asked which row I was sitting in at his show that night, and got me to sing with him at his concert in Las Vegas,” Frankie says.
“I felt incredible. I literally played that moment 10,000 times in my head before I even went to the show.
“I told people I was going to sing with him and everyone laughed. When it happened I couldn’t really believe it myself.”
Frankie says he was proud at the response from the audience – and Michael Buble himself had quipped: “You’re not taking my gig.”