What images come to mind when you hear the word 'TENOR'? Well chances are, after you hear the brand new album "Lead With Your Heart" from the exhilarating Canadian quartet 'The Tenors', your impressions of that word will be redefined, refreshed and enlivened.
In their short career, they have performed on The Oprah Winfrey Show (with Celine Dion), for Her Majesty The Queen during her Diamond Jubilee at Windsor Castle, the live broadcast of the 2011 Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, at the opening ceremonies of Vancouver's 2010 Olympics and for the NBA, MLB, and NHL All-Star Games. They have rubbed shoulders with presidents and prime ministers, princesses and even shared a private tea with HM The Queen. They have shared the stage with Sarah McLachlan, Neil Young, Paul Anka, Justin Bieber, Paul McCartney, Brian McKnight, David Foster, and Natalie Cole among others, in venues from Bangkok to London, and New York to Israel. They have been hailed as musical ambassadors and Canada’s national treasure.
While those impressive achievements may help define them in the eyes of the world, they are only the wrapping on the greater gift The Tenors give every time they perform: the music that comes from deep inside them.
These four young men with amazing talent and incredible voices have come together to create music from their hearts. The Tenors originate from all over Canada and their roots are as diverse as their music.
They also play instruments on stage, and they are incredibly charming, funny and devoted to their philanthropic endeavours around the world.
“Lead With Your Heart” isn’t just the title of their latest CD, it’s their mantra as well.
“Our music always comes from our hearts and reflects our lives, allowing our sensibilities and our life experiences to shine through,” says Vancouver’s Fraser Walters, who began performing professionally in theatre and opera at the age of 8.
Those sensibilities are a study in contrasts reflected by the music on the new album. World music, pop, opera, and folk all walk together in this artfully balanced collection, but the reason the mix works so well is that it comes not from some outside force, but the inner life of The Tenors.
“I studied classically, but was lead singer in a rock band growing up,” shares Toronto-born Victor Micallef, (whose parents hail from Malta). “I have a sensitivity to both forms. We all do. We’ve always been eclectic and we love to show it. Dylan to Puccini on one album? Sure, why not! Yes, that’s a stretch, but it’s who we are.”
Remigio Pereira, a Portuguese Canadian who grew up in Quebec, continues on the theme.
“Growing up with my sisters I was obsessed with rock guitar legends like Eddie Van
Halen and Steve Vai and I had long hair. When I was a kid, I used to pretend I was Ringo Starr, playing with toothbrushes on the sofa cushions. You take these things with you. We are all the result of the circumstances of our lives.”
Port McNeill’s Clifton Murray fills in another piece of the puzzle.
“From age 11, I was entertaining the guests each evening at my parents’ fishing resort in BC. That’s where I got my performance chops, singing with my father. All the great singer-songwriters like Roy Orbison, Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot… and Bob Dylan. When we sing his ‘Forever Young’ I’m reliving those days.
Another unique aspect to this “Tenor Band" is their songwriting ability. The Tenors have been anticipating the time to showcase their writing talents and they are proud to have four original songs written all or in part by them on this record. "This is not a decision we made lightly as we only wanted the best for the album,” says Clifton. “Whether it was our songs or someone else's, the music always came first.”
The Tenors have talent, power, courage, variety and youth on their side. But their final secret ingredient, the one that places them far out in front, is something they willingly admit to, but seldom discuss, (except obliquely) as when Murray says, “Music is the language of the soul.”
Micallef tells a story that reveals a bit more.
“We were in Charlotte, North Carolina and at intermission, we were interrupted by a lady who came backstage in a wheelchair and said, ‘Thank you all so much. I was going to give up today, but you’ve given me the strength to go on.’ Those moments feed our creativity and remind us of the importance of what we are doing.”
Pereira admits “We always huddle before we go on stage to get us into the same spiritual zone and we give that energy to the audience,” and Micallef allows that “in a time when things are moving too fast, we all need food for the soul.”
Walters brings it home: “A director we worked with once shared a very important anecdote with us. He said, ‘At every show, there’s someone out there for which this may be their first and someone out there for what may be the last time. So always be there for them and make it special.’“