Founders reflect on their favourite performances with the city's no-commitment singing group.
On February 2, 2011, Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman gathered at the Bosley Real Estate office in Queen West to sing. “We had no idea what we were doing,” the pair suggests. But they did something right: that night, Choir! Choir! Choir! was born.
The casual, no-commitment singing group meets twice-weekly in the city to perform their own twist on pop hits. Since that first night, the group has bounced from Bosley to Adilman’s basement to their current home in the back room at Clinton’s, and has performed with big names in the music industry.
In honour of Choir! Choir! Choir!’s five-year anniversary, Torontoist asked Goldman and Adilman to recount their five favourite performances.
1. Bryan Adams—Run To You
Bryan Adams saw this performance and tweeted that it was “brilliant,” which led ET Canada to name-check us on their show. Everyone is wearing sunglasses because Nobu mixed up Bryan Adams’ style with Corey Hart’s (oops).
This was our first official video shot by Tim McCready, our long-time videographer. We made the video after Howard, from Weiner’s Hardware in the Annex, told us about a new CBC show called Cover Me Canada, that was looking for bands to audition for their music competition show. We got shortlisted but we weren’t picked. Cover Me Canada was cancelled after one year. We are celebrating our fifth birthday—just sayin’!
2. Tegan & Sara—Closer
There’s no way we could have predicted what would happen after we covered “Closer” and “I Was A Fool” during one our weekly meet-ups. Tegan and Sara loved our renditions and gave Steve Jordan the thumbs up to invite us to perform “Closer” at the Polaris Music Gala—they were touring with Katy Perry and couldn’t make it. It was such a big night for us.
Later, Team T&S invited us to crowd-source a choir of their fans (from across North America) and perform it with them on the Juno Award broadcast in Winnipeg. And then we went down to LA to teach our arrangement of “I Was a Fool” to high school students who performed it with Tegan and Sara on Conan. It’s hard to believe all of this happened!
3. Patti Smith—Because The Night
Covering “Because The Night” was a music lover’s hat tip to a punk legend and the hardest working-class show person in rock. When we heard Patti Smith was going to perform a couple of live shows at the Art Gallery Of Ontario as part of a Patti Smith-themed First Thursdays event, we reached out to Sean O’Neill and got on the bill. We roamed around the gallery singing “People Have The Power,” “Dancing Barefoot,” and “Because The Night,” and that alone was a great feeling.
Sean happened to record us singing among the Henry Moore sculptures and showed it to Patti in between her first and second sets. She emphatically said she wanted us to perform with her. Next thing we know, we’re being ushered into Walker Court, watching Patti perform. We then sang the final two songs with her. The energy in the room was something we had never felt before.
A year later, in 2014, we got 1,000 people to sing it with us at TedXToronto in Koerner Hall.
4. John Lennon—Imagine
We have such fond memories of all our Epic Nights! events, which have included singing with Sloan’s Chris Murphy and Jay Ferguson (“Coax Me”), Hey Rosetta!’s Tim Baker (“Carry Me Home”), Joel Plaskett (“When I Close My Eyes”), and Odds’ Craig Northey (“Someone Who’s Cool”). But the biggest one yet was held last December, the climax of our “C!C!C! Sings For Syria” campaign to sponsor a Syrian family in Toronto.
Held on the tragic 35th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, Reuben Bullock, front man of Reuben And The Dark, sang the lead to “Imagine” while a capacity crowd at Lee’s Palace sang backup. The night raised $11,000, and to date, our campaign is nearing $70,000.
5. David Bowie—Space Oddity
This just happened, but we know we’ll be talking about it for years. When woke up to the terrible news that David Bowie had died, we reached out to Sean O’Neill at the Art Gallery Of Ontario. After a few phone calls throughout the day, we organized a massive singalong to “Space Oddity,” slated six days later. Tickets for the event sold out in less than 10 minutes.
The video, featuring 550 singers in Walker Court, was posted the next day and was shared by media outlets around the world. If you tallied all the places it has been posted, it has been viewed more than two million times.
Choir! Choir! Choir! meets Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the backroom at Clinton’s