As fans continue to wait impatiently for new music from Frank Ocean, a nearly 20-year-old video of the Blonde vocalist performing at his high school graduation emerged online this week.
In the two-minute video, a 17-year-old Frank (then known as Christopher Breaux) sings the school anthem in front of the crowd during the John Ehret High School graduation ceremony in Marrero, Louisiana for the Class of 2005.
A young Frank enters the stage wearing a blue cap and gown after being introduced by a classmate who has trouble pronouncing his last name. He displays the singing ability that would make him one of the most renowned singers of his generation.
Daymond Burditt, a former John Ehret student, discovered the video earlier this month, and music writer Brenton Blanchet published it on Twitter. His tweet has received over 2,000 retweets and 20,000 likes.
It’s a “safe bet” that it’s the earliest version of Frank Ocean that is known to exist, according to Blonded Blog, a website and social media platform that bills itself as “the preeminent archive of Frank Ocean news, history, and esoterica on the net.”
“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.”
More intriguing information about Frank Ocean’s high school years came to light as a result of the viral video, including the fact that Lucky Daye, another R&B singer who is from Louisiana, also graduated from John Ehret High School. Daye and Frank could have gone to school together as they are only two years apart in age.
One Muslim kid who was also Frank’s classmate recalled the Grammy-winning musician standing up for her one time when other pupils 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.”
In a 2019 interview with W Magazine, Frank Ocean discussed his time in high school and acknowledged that he regularly got into problems.
“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.”
Frank Ocean enrolled to the University of New Orleans to study English after finishing high school. He changed schools to the University of Louisiana in Lafayette after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, then left school to pursue music.
Later, Frank moved to Los Angeles, where he started writing songs under the pseudonym Lonny Breaux for artists including Brandy, Justin Bieber, and John Legend. When Def Jam knocked in 2009, the company mostly disregarded him until he independently released his mixtape, ULTRA, in 2011.
The mixtape generated hype, which resulted in the following year’s release of his Grammy-winning debut album Channel Orange, in addition to his membership in Tyler, The Creator’s rising Odd Future group.
Frank Ocean is said to have been pitching his upcoming album, the widely awaited follow-up to 2016’s Blonde, to labels last September, but there haven’t been many developments since then.