Full rests are rare for Germaine Franco. As a Grammy-winning and Oscar-nominated composer, she’s been in constant motion. Her extensive resume, coupled with her agility, curiosity, and inventiveness, has made her a trailblazer. Franco was the first Latina to win a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, in recognition of her work on Encanto. She was also the first Latina to receive the Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature for her work on Coco in 2018. In recognition of her work on Encanto, Germaine received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score, an SCL Award for Outstanding Original Score for a Studio Film, an Annie Award for Best Music in a Feature, a Billboard Music Award, as well as a World Soundtrack Awards nomination for Film Composer of the Year in 2022. The film was directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush, co-directed by Charise Castro Smith, and produced by Clark Spencer and Yvett Merino, with original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Recent projects include composing and producing the score for the Netflix smash hit The Mother, starring Jennifer Lopez, directed by Niki Caro, which debuted as one of Netflix’s No.1 films of 2023 in 82 countries, and the Universal Studios Beijing Resort immersive media attraction Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness. Germaine also scored two more No.1 Netflix films, Work It, directed by Laura Terruso, and The Sleepover, directed by Trish Sie, in 2020. Other work highlights include crafting the epic adventure score to Paramount’s Dora and the Lost City of Gold, co-composed with John Debney, and directed by James Bobin. Germaine’s score for Little, directed by Tina Gordon Chism for Universal Studios, includes a mix of orchestral, hip hop, R&B, and gospel music. Franco co-wrote and produced the main title theme song for the hit Nickelodeon show The Casagrandes.
In 2019, Franco was the only woman and woman of color to score two of the 100 top-grossing films with Dora and the Lost City of Gold and Little, across the entire industry. Previously, in 2018, Franco was one of three female composers to score a major studio project with her work on Tag, directed by Jeff Tomsic for New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. She also completed the features Someone Great for Netflix, Life-Size 2 produced by Stephanie Allain, and the series Vida for Starz. At the 2018 ASCAP Screen Music Awards, Franco was recognized with the Shirley Walker Award. In 2016, she composed the score for Dope, directed by Rick Famuyiwa, which premiered at both the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals to critical acclaim.
Franco’s work on the Oscar-winning Disney-Pixar film Coco, released in 2017, spanned over four years. Franco co-wrote and produced five of the six original songs with screenwriter and co-director Adrian Molina, including “Un Poco Loco”, “The World Es Mi Familia”, and “Proud Corazón”. She produced, orchestrated, arranged the 2018 Oscar-winning song, contributed additional music, and co-orchestrated the score, giving the film its authentic Mexican sound.
Germaine’s work has been performed in concert halls around the world, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall with The Los Angeles Master Chorale, The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, The San Francisco Symphony, The Puerto Rico Symphony, The National Symphony Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Houston Symphony, The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, The Taipei Symphony Orchestra. The Encanto Live concerts will continue around the world for the duration of 2023.
In between projects, Franco is an advocate for music education for individuals of all ages. She serves on the advisory board of the Neighborhood Music School. Franco gives frequent lectures and workshops worldwide at various universities, public schools, and corporations. She was a guest speaker at her alma mater Rice University, The University of Southern California, Columbia University, Emerson College, Viborg Visuals in Denmark, and Education Through Music Los Angeles. She was a recent guest artist at Juilliard’s Film Music Lecture Series with colleague Nicholas Britell. Germaine’s passion for music education is rooted in her experiences as a Sundance Music and Sound Design Lab Fellow. Franco holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
Music, for Germaine, has never been a backdrop; it was an actual place to be, to live in, “kind of like a language and also a meditation in a way,” she explains. “You can go into another world, and you can stay there. And when you encounter other musicians and you’re making music together, it’s really joyous.”