The Tenors are out to make good on their previously cancelled COVID tour dates in Windsor and Toronto this month. Both cities enjoy monumental venues – Caesars Windsor and Massey Hall and both venues are prime for the huge musical feast that the Canadian music trio serve up
Having toured the most prestigious venues in the world, The Tenors (Fraser Walters, Victor Micallef and Clifton Murray) have performed at such elite events as the opening ceremonies of 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and on ITV Diamond Jubilee Show at Windsor Castle for Her Majesty, the Queen of England. Through all of that pomp and circumstance, Windsor and Toronto remain part of their regular tours.
With a new single on its way (Best Of Our Lives) that the guys will be performing at these shows, it’s an exciting and positive thought to take forward as they move on from two years of on-and-off lockdowns. It follows the release of a gorgeous pandemic single called Mother, which paid tribute to their moms.
They’re about as down-to-earth as anyone when you meet and talk to them, but once they hit the stage, these humble men become quickly world-class vocalists. Audiences will enjoy the upcoming shows in Windsor on May 5 at Caesars Windsor and Toronto on May 8 at Massey Hall.
Fraser caught up with 519 ahead of the shows.
You finally hit the stage again in May. So returning to Windsor and Massey Hall, you have to be thrilled to be back.
Absolutely. You know, COVID has been a challenging period for everyone, especially artists, who had our livelihoods stopped overnight, without being able to tour on the road and share our music. We feel like we do a small part of healing in the communities that we get to visit and we’re finally able to get back out on stage.
What did The Tenors do during the pandemic?
Well, there was a lot of writing, and there was, of course, some incredible family time. There are silver linings with being able to press pause on that perpetual hamster wheel of touring. So really, being able to lean in with our loved ones and our kids, especially. So much of that family connection makes its way back into our music – and it’s no lie that every lyric has a different meaning going forward, it’s now charged with more love and more emotion. We know that the audiences are going to feel that when we perform at Caesars Windsor and Massey Hall.
I’ve started to notice that the music that’s coming out now is some of the best that some artists have created in years because they’ve had the time to sit down and think it out. You’re describing the same thing.
We released a song called Mother during the pandemic and we’ve continually received feedback that it’s people’s absolutely favorite song. I recommend that people check out our YouTube and our music video for it, it’s pretty touching. It’s us connecting with our moms, essentially over Zoom, because we couldn’t fly to visit them during Mother’s Day like we normally might have. We really captured that pandemic moment that so many people were experiencing.
A lot of musicians discovered the concept of working over Zoom or other avenues to get things done during the pandemic. Did the pandemic change the way you’re going to work moving forward?
I think that finding a balance that works for family and for creativity will be essential. Some places are opening up slower than others, so it’s not like it’s just an automatic restart back to the pace that it was before. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, because before the pandemic happened a lot of us were just so driven, maybe without realizing how much we were missing in the process.
One of the jokes around the office is that I almost don’t know what to ask you guys, because every time I’ve interviewed you about a Windsor show, it’s always been a Christmas show. Christmas and The Tenors go hand in hand. Tell me about this show.
I think it’s a neat change to your normal questioning. Because, yes, you know, we had to cancel our Christmas show at Windsor because of the COVID restrictions in December. We had done most of our tour, but we had to cancel Windsor and the Toronto shows at Massey Hall. That was crushing for us because we love the Windsor audience. They always come out in droves and it’s just such a great energy in Caesars there. It’s the same with Massey Hall. The silver lining is that we’re performing this repertoire that I think a lot of people in Windsor have been craving. We very thoughtfully selected a program that has absolute hills and valleys. We really want to take people on a meaningful journey and you’ll hear some new songs, some new arrangements, as well as some old tenor favorites and classics covers. There’s some fireworks at the end of the show, too and we have a great guest artists joining us as well. I think it will be one to remember for sure.
There are only two shows in your schedule so far. I know one of the questions that a lot of your worldwide fans have is, will there be a tour?
I think it’s just a little challenging right now to piece all the cities together with tour buses and trucks and the staff to accompany it. There’s almost a bottleneck effect right now of all these things opening up, so resources are so scattered. We’ve experienced some challenges like a lot of other artists about how to really route a tour that can include all the places that we’d like to go. Those are some of the realities of this post COVID era.
Let’s talk a little bit about Windsor – that’s always been a special place for you guys, What really draws you to this city so much?
The fans, of course. If they weren’t enjoying what we were putting on stage, we wouldn’t be invited back. First and foremost, it’s that connection with the audience; they know that they’re going to see a Tenors show that’s pulling out all the stops. We’ve never been a group to just phone it in, and our energy on stage is a testament to that.
Caesars Windsor is a great venue, whereas Massey Hall is an iconic venue. Do have any special feelings for Massey Hall?
Yes, it’s such an iconic, historic location. If those walls could speak, right, just the artists that have graced that stage alone is incredible. It recently underwent a $184 million renovation, so not only is it historic, but it’s also been updated beautifully. I think walking in there for soundcheck is just going to be an emotional and powerful moment, because it’s a place that we’ve held in such high esteem. We’ve finally been invited to share our music on that stage. We’re truly honored.
Are there other venues that you’ve played that are just as iconic at that where you’ve been just taken away?
We’ve been fortunate to travel around the world. We’ve performed for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at Windsor Castle and at Buckingham Palace as well. They were giving us the moniker “The Buckingham Palace House Band”, and we were pretty honored to be held in such esteem. There’s also a venue out in Los Angeles called The Greek Theatre that’s absolutely magical. It’s almost like you’re in this magical garden at Griffith Park with the sunset and the trees – it’s just such an intimate, outdoor natural theatre. We’ve been so lucky to perform around the world both big and small. Giving back has always been a big part of our DNA, so it’s not always the pomp and circumstance or the shows or the biggest audiences, it’s really about the meaning at the end of the day, communicating with the audience and feeling that exchange of energy.
I’ve noticed that with your music. When you guys approach it, and you sing it, whether it’s your own original or if it’s cover, it’s all about passion. How do you connect with the with the songs?
Honestly, it feels like we are channeling something, that there’s something larger than us at play. When you have choreography, you need to be present and thinking about what’s coming next. Those truly magical moments are the ones where the thinking brain stops and the heart comes through. It’s really an out of body experience, and it no doubt happens at some point in every show. When you’re on that level, I think that the audience feels it, and I think that’s a part of why The Tenors have had the career that we’ve been fortunate to have.
You guys posted on Facebook that you were in the studio in late March. How’s the new music coming?
It’s great. We have a new song actually, that’s the title track of this performance that we’re doing called Best Of Our Lives. That was a song that we wrote during the pandemic. It’s about quantifying the feelings of what we experienced during COVID – that ultimate break down. But in the breakdown comes the breakthrough, and that’s what this song is about, recognizing and honoring the past, but also looking towards the future. May the rest of our lives be the best of our lives.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of one of your most popular albums Lead With Your Heart. What do you remember about making that album?
I remember being very tired. I jokingly say that but there’s truth in it, of course. It was a huge project to put together with the full orchestra. Lead With Your Heart is such a beautiful, original song that we still perform to this day, and it will be in our show coming up in Windsor and Massey Hall. It’s really a mantra for us, that line “lead with your heart”. Not everybody does it, but I think when people do, others notice. I think that’s why it’s become sort of inextricably linked with our path forward.
It’s interesting that you mentioned that it was tiring, because when you look at the list of studios that were used to make this thing, that’s crazy.
I love your attention to detail – good for you for reading the fine print. You’re right, there was a lot of travel, there were a lot of producers, there were a lot of hours of us arranging this music. We do much of the arranging ourselves, and finding the right team to help us. It was truly something that took a village, as they say, but I’m so proud as I look back. We’ve never been the type of group to say we’ve got two or three really important songs on this record and the rest, we can put some filler. We’ve always, almost to our detriment said every song has to be world class.
This, this also is going to be the 10th anniversary of you guys signing with David Foster. Working with David had to have changed things dramatically.
It sure did. He is a beacon of excellence for so many artists and audience members alike. In fact, we have a gig with him next week in Los Angeles, before the Windsor show. We continue to work together. We’ve had some wonderful times recently, performing with his wife, Katherine McPhee. They’re a dynamic duo and a powerhouse team. We’re fortunate to be invited on their stages, still to this day.