Much has taken place in the world of crossover group The Tenors in the last 12 months.
The contemporary pop and classical group shortened their name (they were formerly known as The Canadian Tenors when they were in Moncton around this time last year) and also solidified their growing popularity with the release of their latest effort, Lead With Your Heart.
In the past five years, the group has been thrilling audiences with their unforgettable voices and melodies. Their three releases, two studio albums and a holiday-themed record, have each attained platinum status in Canada, achieving sales of a minimum of 80,000 units each.
The fact that Lead With Your Heart was released almost a full two years after their debut record shows the staying power that the quartet of Port McNeill, B.C.’s Clifton Murray, Toronto’s Victor Micallef, Quebec’s Remigio Pereira, and Vancouver’s Fraser Walters holds with audiences nationwide.
The 12 tracks contained on Lead With Your Heart cover a wide spectrum of music. Included on the record are covers of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” in addition to the Elton John track “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.” But in addition to the classical aria “Nessun Dorma” are a selection of tracks written by The Tenors.
For the group to have received its label’s blessing to feature original songs rather than going a safer route of performing tracks of well-known artists shows the faith the label has in The Tenors’ abilities.
“It was an amazing and empowering experience to see our music go through the vetting process of the record label and of (acclaimed producer) David Foster himself,” Tenor Fraser Walters said. “David is a friend of ours but he wears a different hat as the chairman of our record label than he does when we are on tour together.
“We had heard stories of him coming into a project and having the band start over from scratch after having recorded 20 songs so we were naturally a little bit on edge when we sat down with him to listen to the record. He told us up front that he was very critical and that he was not going to like everything he heard but he also insisted upon not telling him who wrote what until after we had listened to the album the whole way through. It turned out that one of his favourite songs on the record was one that we had co-written. To get that stamp of approval from our label boss who also happens to be one of the greatest songwriters of our time was simply amazing.”
But had Foster forced the group to go back to the drawing board, one gets the sense that The Tenors would have risen to the challenge. After all, this is a group who has routinely spent 300 days a year for the last six years on the road. If there is one thing that Fraser and his bandmates in The Tenors are familiar with, it is working hard to reap success.
Because their music isn’t typically that which is often heard on pop or mainstream radio stations, it has forced The Tenors to have to dig in that much deeper in order to have their music heard. It doesn’t appear to be only Canadians who have taken notice of The Tenors. Fraser says that the U.K. arm of their label called Lead With Your Heart one of the best albums that they have heard in the realm of crossover music.
“Typically, we have to spend more time in the cities we visit because radio isn’t as common for us as it is for some other acts,” Fraser says. “It places much more importance on television appearances as well as the live touring as aspect. It has been a lot of work but it is something that we have enjoyed every step of the way.”
Naturally, being away from home so much can take its toll on personal relationships. Fortunately for Fraser, his wife is also a musician, and is able to easily identify with the need to be on tour for lengthy periods of time.
The Tenors have their eyes firmly planted on the prize, you could say.
“I believe that a big misconception that people have about touring is that it is a glamorous lifestyle. But there are far different realities in the touring world and being away from loved ones. I feel that we are all learning how to deal with that separation as the group continues to grow. We certainly hope that our families will be able to travel with us more in the future. It is however extremely exciting for us and our families to see people responding to the music in such a positive ways. That is what keeps us going at the end of the day.
“Being on stage every night is an otherworldly experience. To have that exchange with people who have paid their hard-earned money to see us is a job that we take very seriously. Some of the music we sing can be dramatic and epic but we like to make things a little more familiar to audiences, as well. Every show that we play is different but what stays the same no matter what city we are in is how important the interaction with the audience is every night. I feel is has been an important key to our success, being playful and enjoying the banter between songs. We love to make the audience feel as though we are inviting them into our living room every night.”
Article published in the February 27, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript