A common complaint in contemporary music is predictability. Who would ever guess that a vocal group, such as Canada’s mannered quartet The Tenors, would shake things up on national television? But The Tenors did just that last summer. During the 2016 Major League All Star Game in San Diego, Remigio Pereira called an audible during the group’s rendition of the Canadian National Anthem.
Instead of singing “With glowing hearts we see thee rise/the True North strong and free,” Pereira sang, “We’re all brothers and sisters/all lives matter to the great.”
Shortly after the game, Pereira was fired, and the quartet morphed into a trio.
“It was certainly a shock,” Tenor vocalist Clifton Murray said while calling from Ridgefield, Conn. “You would never think that would have happened. It put everything in jeopardy. It jeopardized our livelihood. But it all worked out. It came from a desire from one member to go in a different direction. He’s going in his direction, and we’re going in ours.”
Murray and fellow Tenors – Fraser Walters and Victor Micallef – are working on a new album, which will be released later in the year. Some of the new songs will be previewed when The Tenors perform Wednesday at the Durham Performing Arts Center.
“We have some fresh material that we’re anxious to preview,” Murray says. “It’s a mosaic of sound.”
Murray was reluctant to reveal sonic details. “It’ll be rousing and powerful,” he says. “We’re going to do a big classic rock anthem.”
When pressed, Murray refused to divulge more information. “That would ruin the big surprise,” he says. “You won’t believe what we’re doing.”
Murray did note that the group, which was assembled in 2004 by piano teacher Jill Ann Siemens, has added a new element to its show – dancing. “We were asked to be part of a tribute to Smokey Robinson (in 2016) for PBS and we danced. We did some Four Tops and Temptations moves and loved it. I don’t think you’ll see any other Tenor act dancing.”
Unlike many other Tenor groups, the Tenors like to mix up musical genres. The group has no problem shifting from the gorgeous aria “Nessun Dorma” to Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” to Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” to the traditional “Amazing Grace.”
“I think our material is quite eclectic,” Murray says. “We’ve always been about making interesting choices, and those choices will continue. Just wait until you hear us sing that classic rock anthem. You will be blown away.”
If it’s up there with The Tenors’ version of late Canadian icon Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” then that’s really impressive.
“We love Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah,’ ” Murray says. “That song has helped define our group in many ways. We’ve sung it for the Queen of England and the President of the United States (President Obama). We’ve sung it in the jungles of Africa. It’s an amazing song. Since Leonard Cohen’s passing, the song has come to mean more than it ever did. You’ll hear us do that song and the new songs from our album, which range from classical to pop.”
When the cagey Murray was asked about what classical songs the act would render, he laughed. “It’s the same thing as before,” he says. “I’m not revealing anything. You have to come to the show and experience what we’re working on. You won’t be disappointed. People know too much today. Come out and be surprised . . . We’ve working hard in rehearsals now on this show so that when we come to town, you’ll experience the best of The Tenors.”