How Encanto composer Germaine Franco broke barriers and made history

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Encanto was one of the biggest films since its release in late November 2021, spawning TikTok trends and #1 hits with its catchy soundtrack. While many know that hamilton the creator Lin Manuel Miranda participated in the creation of the music, what do we know about the composer Germaine Franco?

How Germaine Franco made history with her work on ‘Encanto’

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Franco is a composer whose work has appeared in hit films like coconut, A good personand Dora and the lost city of gold. While many knew his work — even if they didn’t know his name — his work on Encanto propelled her to the top of the music industry.

Franco also broke down barriers with his music. She earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score, making her the sixth woman in Oscar history to receive such an honor and the first Latina.

On top of that, Franco is the first woman in Disney Animation history to score one of their projects. So how did Franco start composing?

Germaine Franco’s career in composition started young

Germaine Franco | Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Women in Film (WIF)

The musician, who grew up in El Paso, Texas, loved music from an early age. She played percussion in her high school band, performing on drums at football games. Franco also performed with his school’s jazz band and the El Paso Youth Symphony.

She later formed bands with members of the Rice University Percussion Ensemble, where she earned two degrees in music. From there, Franco performed in theatre, chamber music and opera with groups around the world. She even considered auditioning to be a percussionist with several major orchestras.

The composer ended up coming to California to study Latin music with Cuban percussionist Luis Conte. While there, Franco also spent time working at the Los Angeles Theater Center. It was there that a director asked her if she was going to score their short film. The rest is history!

“It changed my life,” Franco told NPR. “I saw my role as a musician change from a simple performer to that of a storyteller.”

Franco worked with fellow composer John Powell for a few years before going it alone with the 2019 film Dope. Before Encantohis greatest film was coconutwhere she orchestrated the score and created additional music for the film, such as the fan-favorite “Un Poco Loco.”

Lin Manuel Miranda wanted Germaine Franco to help him on ‘Encanto’

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When Miranda started working on Encantohe wanted an all-Latin team to create the music. He contacted Franco personally to ask him to score the film. Typically, Disney film scores are adapted from the songs in the film, but Miranda was thrilled to collaborate with Franco.

“Germaine’s job,” he told NPR, “was first to introduce us to Colombia and the music of this world, but also the magic of this region. There’s really an ethereal evocation, and sometimes scary, but always beautiful of this area that I think she captured so well.

Franco’s work on Encanto made her a household name, helping her break down barriers for women and the Latinx community.

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