MORRISBURG –On Saturday, November 4, at 7 p.m., the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage will welcome three of Canada’s most phenomenal vocalists when the O’Pears appear at the Playhouse in concert.
Described by SLAS president Sandra Whitworth as a group with “complex and frankly jaw dropping harmonies that remind listeners of the Wailin’ Jennys, combined with the lyrical sensibilities of Crosby, Stills and Nash,” the Toronto based trio promises concert goers an evening of unforgettable music.
Opening for the O’Pears at the concert will be the Moonfruits, a duo who definitely made a powerful musical impression when they appeared in the SLAS 2016 Intimate Acoustics Showcase.
The Toronto based O’Pears are Meg Contini, Jill Harris and Lydia Persaud.
The three artists first met in 2008 when they were singing in an R&B and Soul band in Toronto. They discovered they loved singing together, loved how their voices sounded together, and “loved each other as people.” When that original band faded, the O’Pears were born: the trio has been together musically ever since.
Accomplished musicians, each holding music degrees, they shared similar backgrounds in choirs, bands and musical theatre.
The O’Pears have built a growing reputation among fans and critics alike for the power and the utter beauty of their harmonies, whether singing a capella or accompanying themselves on guitars, ukeleles or the merlin.
“Our singing together is very unique,” Meg explained, “very strong, and we read each others’ minds musically.”
“There are many ways of singing together: you can be in tune, but still not connected,” she said. “You need those dynamics, those musical connections to sing together. We really listen to each other: eventually we honed our sound as a trio.
Ours became three separate, adaptable voices blended as one, creating one sound. We are not a sandwich,” she laughed, “We are a soup, I guess you could say.”
Their lyrical harmonies have taken the O’Pears to performances at the NXNE, the Sing! Vocal Arts Festival in Toronto and Austin, Texas and the Lunenberg Folk Harbour Festival in Nova Scotia.
The trio recently returned from a European tour, where many of their concerts were set in medieval churches, “a setting that was fantastic for our voices and inspiring to us.”
“Our themes have changed as our lives have changed. As you move through and reflect on life, the music comes out. Music lets us explain and share feelings and experiences.”
The women are currently “writing very collaboratively, although we do bring original songs to each other, to be fleshed out. Our song writing comes from folk traditions, but our style changes all the time. We all write poetry.
However, a melody, or a groove or a vibe can lead to a song. Sometimes just a snippet of song can bring us together to give it life.”
Their debut EP “Our Own” was a great success. With an Ontario Arts Council Grant, the O’Pears are at work on a seasonal, original holiday album, “a little off the beaten path, influenced by the music of Sufjan Stevens” which they expect to release in 2018. Right now, the working title is “Home This Year”. They plan to include one or two songs from the new work in their Morrisburg concert.
The O’Pears are excited to be coming to the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage to perform, “mixing a capella and instruments, and may be tossing in a little Crosby, Stills & Nash.”
Also excited to be returning to the SLAS are Alex Millaire and Kaitlin Milroy, the Moonfruits, who will be opening for the O’Pears.
Like the O’Pears, this duo is noted for the strength of their harmonies.
“Our voices and our harmonies play like instruments with each other,” explained Kaitlin Milroy,. “Our music can be playful and cheeky, sometimes serious, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometime just laughter-filled and fun.”
She describes Moonfruits as “comfortable under the folk unbrella,” their songs ranging from big soundscapes to “something very intimate.”
Milroy and Millaire are fluently bilingual.
“We like to work story telling into our music. I find English and French songs are both about everyday life.”
Their sophomore album, “Ste-Quequepart” is composed around an “imaginary town, inspired by places we have visited. Through our music, we invite listeners there to meet the people and to visit, as a way of avoiding isolation.
We find too many people today have lost their roots, the familiar things.
We look at a return to community, to finding things in common with our neighbours through our music.”
The Moonfruits have just finished an East Coast tour, and will be touring northern Ontario in the New Year.
They look forward to opening for the O’Pears, in a “harmony rich evening” at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage, a “very warm and receptive place.”
Tickets for the O’Pears at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage November 4, 7 p.m., are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.