There have been many highlights for the Tenors during their 20-year career. The group sang with Celine Dion on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” a decade ago, once performed with the iconic Stevie Wonder and even learned a new word from Sir Paul McCartney.
But Tenor Clifton Murray’s most memorable moment as a Tenor is when the group became the first act to perform the Canadian National Anthem at an NBA Finals game in May 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
“That was amazing since Canada has one basketball team and we got to sing ‘O Canada’ and the entire country was tuned in,” Murray said while calling from Warren, Ohio. “We were at the epicenter of the nation at that moment. It was something I’ll never forget.”
The Tenors received the invitation to belt out the anthem after a well-respected 15-year run delivering operatic pop music that is a mixture of classical and pop. The Tenors have hit the Billboard charts with their versions of “The Prayer,” “Panis Angelicus” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
The latter is an incredibly popular cover. There’s the soaring take the late Jeff Buckley recorded and the relatively straightforward version by Rufus Wainwright. The Tenors offer a baroque “Hallelujah.”
“There are so many great versions of ‘Hallelujah,’ “Murray said. “My favorite is John Cale’s version, which is on the ‘Shrek’ soundtrack. It’s a sweet version with someone, who is not trying so hard. I love singing that song since it has such a beautiful melody and it’s a song everyone can connect with. It’s about a higher power but the lyrics are so ambiguous and beautiful. It’s one of the greatest songs ever.”
Fans can count on the Tenors, which also includes Victor Micallef, Mark Masri and Alberto Urso, to sing the Leonard Cohen hit when the act performs 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Northern Quest Resort and Casino, along with other favorites, such as “Lead With Your Heart” and “Angels Calling.”
Some holiday material from the Tenors’ latest album, “Christmas with the Tenors” will be worked into the set as well.
“We want to play some songs from that album since it’s what we just recorded and the Christmas season is almost here,” Murray said. “We’re excited about mixing it up.”
Fraser Walters left the group in 2022 and was replaced by Masri and Urso.
“It’s been an adjustment, but it’s working out well,” Murray said. “It was difficult to say goodbye to Fraser since he was with us for 14 years. When he left, we laughed and cried when we talked about the great memories.”
There was much to reminisce about since the Tenors have shared a stage with such luminaries as Justin Bieber, Sarah McLachlan and Neil Young. And that’s just the Canadian singer-songwriters who have appeared with The Tenors.
“I can’t believe the experiences we’ve had,” Murray said. “One of my biggest pinch me moments was jamming with Stevie Wonder to ‘Superstition.’ That was surreal.”
Another pinch-me Tenors moment was with the aforementioned McCartney, who added a word to the Tenors lexicon.
“We asked him if he would take a photograph with us and Paul said, ‘Not now. I’m a bit bedraggled.’ I never heard that word before.
“Anyway, Paul came back with us a little later and said. ‘Where are my boys?’ He took the photo with us and it was just an awesome experience. One of the best parts about continuing what we do is having these experiences with legends like Paul McCartney.”