Tenors follow their dreams

ON STAGE
What
: The Tenors
When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Where: Royal Theatre
Tickets: $51.75, $96, $116.50 and $291 at rmts.bc.ca, by phone at 250-386-6121, or in person at the Royal McPherson box office

In their time together, members of the Tenors have collectively written down their professional hopes and goals. Singer Clifton Murray is a big believer in the practice.

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“For us, it’s all about what’s next,” Murray said Thursday, during a flight from Nashville to Los Angeles. “We’ve got to beat the past albums. We’ve got to do better and be bigger. That’s the challenge in front of us.”

The dream board, suggested by the life coach they employ, is there to remind Murray and fellow members Victor Micallef and Fraser Walters how they got to where they are today, but also serves as a source of hope.

The board might sound goofy to some, but Murray said it helped make a longstanding dream for the group — to be a part of the televised Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree light-up in New York City — come true a few weeks ago. The Tenors will perform alongside Gwen Stefani, Pentatonix and Jennifer Nettles.

“Oddly enough, we had the tree light-up on [the board] for the past eight years,” Murray said. “We put it in the calendar and block off that date in hopes that we would get the call. This is the first time we got the call.”

What might turn out to be the biggest break of the band’s career couldn’t be better-timed: Christmas Together, the band’s new collection of holiday favourites, has made it to No. 1 on the holiday charts in both Canada and the U.S. since its Oct. 13 release.

The recording has a big fan in Danny Bennett, who manages his father, singer Tony Bennett, and runs The Tenors’ record label, Verve. He fell in love with the album, Murray said, and put his father’s longtime publicist, Sylvia Weiner, in charge of spreading the word.

Weiner scored the group several plum assignments, including the tree light-up on NBC and an appearance on Rachael Ray’s daytime show. “When you’ve got people who have been in the business for 30 years — legends in the game — that hear your music and give you the stamp of approval, it really means a lot,” Murray said.

The Port McNeill native, who attended the University of Victoria, was flying to Los Angeles for a Tenors gig today, the first of 16 concerts in support of Christmas Together. Preparations for the tour, which touches down Wednesday in Victoria, included three days of extensive rehearsals, which saw The Tenors and their crew run through the show before an audience in Nashville.

It was a big success, Murray said. “We sing, we dance, we come out with goofy outfits on. When you plan all these things and get the response you were hoping for, it’s such a sigh of relief.”

Celebrating Christmas in November feels slightly odd, Murray admitted, but the show is special for Murray and his mates. Their versions of seasonal classics take the audience “to a time where Christmas seems to live forever. We want to transport people back in time to the magical era. The first show will be early for some, but I know a lot of people are waiting to get into the Christmas spirit.”

Murray grew up in Port McNeill at Nimmo Bay, the Murray family’s fishing resort. One of his duties was entertaining guests with Christmas carols, something his mother and her friends still do, he said. “Some of the songs get ingrained in you very early on. Part of the show is about that caroling experience. There’s a lot of nostalgia, a lot of familiarity.”

His fond memories of Christmas played a role in getting him the gig with The Tenors in 2009, he added. “Christmas is where I got a lot of my singing chops from, singing in the church and singing around the dinner table. My family is full of singers, so Christmas doesn’t go by without me singing O Holy Night with my dad on guitar.”

The trio’s tour of the East Coast this year was its first in some time without Remigio Pereira, who was fired after he unexpectedly changed the lyrics to O Canada during the 2016 Major League Baseball all-star game in San Diego (Pereira also held up a sign that read: “All lives matter,” prompting a backlash against the group.)

The quartet became a trio very soon after. “We knew the project would work with three, so it was an opportunity to take on that challenge,” Murray said. “The great thing about life throwing curveballs at you is that it’s an opportunity to grow and evolve. It’s been a challenge, but it really has been working out. After everything that happened, there was a little bit of trepidation. But to see how it has gone is mind-blowing to us.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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