Arlene Bishop and Her Spirit of Adventure
by Colin Buchanan
Respected songwriter and performer Arlene Bishop has been working on a new music project in secret. Posting video updates to a small group of observers, Bishop has been building an ensemble of 24 backup singers, arranged as a vocal orchestra.
Calling them ‘a vorchestra,’ the ensemble is comprised of a diverse group of Canadian award-winning songwriters and singers. “Yes, there are some famous faces and voices and names — Grammy, Juno and Indie award winners in the vorchestra — but there are also some who never step in the spotlight.” And there are more than 36 people who stepped forward to sing.
Another bold venture for the innovative songwriter and performer, she started taking on challenging projects like this as Living in The Spirit of Adventure.
No fan of the cult of celebrity, Bishop identifies with walking away from the spotlight, which she did for nearly ten years. She returned with her latest album Twenty Four, reaching out virtually with twelve producers remixing acoustic songs. The result was an innovative presentation of a dozen acoustic, then embellished and remixed tracks. Working in the spirit of kinship, a commonality of purpose, which she realized was what she really wanted to do.
After deciding to return to music following several years, Bishop wanted to thank the diversity of the music fraternity at large. “It’s been a good life for me, creatively,” and it’s the people behind the scenes that Bishop noticed are often former musicians who gave up their dreams of writing or performing and instead worked towards supporting others.
Canada’s 150th birthday struck Bishop as a significant time to bring her Spirit Of Adventure to life. “We all have roots in Canada in different ways, mostly immigrants, some native, all with different cultures, languages and faiths under us and we’re all part of the music community.”
The vorchestra has been built to record her newest album live in concert. Always looking for ways to not let the dark edges of depression and isolation creep in, Bishop is opening the rehearsal to the public for four afternoons as she prepares for the recording concerts. Another important aspect of the Spirit Of Adventure was the notion to break down the walls between audience and performers. “Without an audience there is no performance,” says Bishop.
“There’s so much hard work that comes with living a creative life, there’s financial sacrifice, long and lonely hours, doubt, confusion, fear…it’s better to share that than carry it all alone,” realizing again that she’s talking about community.
The modestly priced All Access Pass makes the whole process accessible for people who want a peek behind the process, and who want to contribute to a music project, and who want to enjoy the creative community.
The rehearsal and live concert recording venue is The Social Capital on the 2nd floor of The Black Swan on Danforth Avenue. “There are only 88 seats so the concerts are happening over three shows: a matinée to launch and then two evenings.”
Music fans and singers of all descriptions are invited to see behind the scenes April 15, 30, May 13, 27, and Bishop hopes the whole room will feel inspired to sing along for the live recording concerts on May 28, 29 and 30, so much so that she’s offering downloads of all the concerts so “you can hear yourself on a record, and brag to your friends that you’re famous now,” she says smiling mischievously, “as if anyone would ever want to be a celebrity.”