Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2016

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The Smith Center:

For newlywed Clifton Murray of The Tenors, 2016 is a year of gratitude

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Dan Lim

The Tenors.

The Tenors

The Tenors. Launch slideshow »

The Tenors

The Tenors with Queen Elizabeth II. Launch slideshow »

Canadian Tenors at Smith Center's Reynolds Hall

The Canadian Tenors perform at Reynolds Hall in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, March 17, 2012. Launch slideshow »

The Canadian vocal quartet The Tenors — Remigio Pereira, Victor Micallef, Fraser Walters and Clifton Murray — have a date at Reynolds Hall in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts tonight, and newlywed Murray, immediately friendly and in good spirits during a phone interview, is feeling blessed.

“We have the most incredible fans in the world,” Murray said. “It’s a special relationship based on positivity and love. It’s always a good thing to pause and give thanks for life’s great gifts.”

Murray talked over the phone Monday afternoon from Portland, Ore., ahead of The Tenors’ performance tonight at the Smith Center. Topics included the new album “Under One Sky,” the new tour, being a newlywed and fellow Canadian Celine Dion (The Tenors were previously known as The Canadian Tenors):

Congratulations on the Juno Award nomination for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year.

Thanks, thanks, thanks! It’s a great way to start the New Year.

Tell me about the new album, “Under One Sky,” that was released last June.

Of course. It’s our fourth album, and if features classical songs heard and loved over the years, such as “Granada,” to more contemporary works by Queen and Bill Withers, “Lean on Me,” “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton. Plus, originals written and co-written by us. We spent a year and a half creating our babies.

What is your favorite song to perform on the new album?

Oh, boy, you go through moments of loving each one at a certain time and connecting in a way. Right now, I am really enjoying singing “Besame Mucho.” It starts the show with high energy.

We’re singing and dancing and interacting with the crowd. It’s a great way to start the show dancing and smiling. It’s a great energy piece. We’re revealed with the lights behind us. It’s a great moment to celebrate with fans.

How has the tour been since launching in October?

It has been amazing. We had a sold-out show in Portland last night. We’ve had a strong turnout thus far. The new music and songwriting are really connecting. There’s a tendency to think that tenor groups only sing from the past, but the mandate now seems to present ourselves as more of a band.

We play the piano, guitar and electric guitar. After nine years of traveling with this group, our message is resonating. The music has become important in people’s lives, and we genuinely love singing with the audience in the front rows.

What can fans expect in your performance Saturday night at the Smith Center?

High energy, a lot of great stories, amazing video clips, production and lights, intimate and powerful moments, a focus on family and love, and taking people on a musical journey, from singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen to classical masterpieces like “Nessun Dorma” and crossover songs. We focus on connecting with the power of word and song.

I’ve seen The Tenors perform in Las Vegas for David Foster at Mandalay Bay, Andre Agassi at Wynn Las Vegas, “One Night for One Drop” at Mandalay Bay and at the Smith Center, so Saturday will be at least the fifth performance in Las Vegas. What do you like about performing in Las Vegas?

Wow, Don, I really like to hear that! The energy. Las Vegas is a mecca for incredible talent, and it’s a litmus test to compare ourselves to the great artists who’ve headlined and performed there. It’s a feather in our cap.

We have a lot of friends and industry people from L.A. who’ll come to see our show, so we reconnect with them and celebrate afterward. I really love the Smith Center. The acoustics of the Smith Center are incredible. The Smith Center is something local Las Vegans can call their own. Every time there is a celebration and feels like a moment of arrival.

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The Tenors outside Moorea Beach Club on Friday, March 21, 2014, at Mandalay Bay.

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The Canadian Tenors arrive on the blue carpet for Cirque du Soleil's "One Night for One Drop" at Hyde Bellagio on Friday, March 22, 2013.

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The Canadian Tenors flank Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf on the Andre Agassi Grand Slam red carpet at the Wynn on Oct. 9, 2010.

Is there a favorite memory or an experience that stands out in Las Vegas?

Oh, my goodness. The opening night of Celine Dion at Caesars Palace. Also, Shania Twain at Caesars. We’re all representing Canada in the city that never sleeps (laughs). Celine wears her heart on her sleeve, and we’ve had the honor to perform for her. She is obviously going through a lot at the moment, and we send her our love.

Do you get nervous before a performance?

Not so much nerves, but energy and excitement. I do get nervous about performing if I’m under the weather. Otherwise, I like to harness that raw energy, focus on the performance and take the performance to the next level.

Are you able to have fun in Las Vegas when you’re not performing? Is there anything on your to-do list?

(Laughs) I’m a foodie at heart, and I love checking out the best new restaurants and chefs. I flew in one of those fighter jets — that was awesome. Driving in the Ferraris is wicked. My need for speed is certainly satisfied in Las Vegas. I love to go to the clubs for dancing.

You’re a newlywed — congratulations. How is married life?

Yes, five months. My new wife Rachel (Carvalho) is with me on this tour. We were in Portland for Valentine’s Day. How is married life? I highly recommend it (laughs)! The pressure’s off. The wedding was the most memorable and unforgettable day of my life, and we are re-living it every day. There is a music video of our wedding online — you should watch it!

Where is home for you, and how much of the year is spent on the road for The Tenors?

Vancouver, B.C., is home. Rachel is from Vancouver. I’m from Vancouver Island. In a touring year, I’m home for maybe two months total. Life on the road is a blessing, it’s great, and we’re striking while the iron is hot. We’ve been to Southeast Asia, South Africa, Europe, China — it’s just incredible.

Are you working on anything right now along with touring and performing?

We’re working on our next album. It’s in pre-production — deadlines, photo shoots. It’s an intense process putting all the pieces together.

In doing my research, I learned that you’re a model, which is not surprising.

(Laughs) I don’t know if I would say that, but I did model to pay the bills. I’ve done print work and runway work. I delivered wine and bartended. My resume before The Tenors also included acting, film and television, like “She’s the Man” with Channing Tatum and Amanda Bynes and television with William Shatner. When The Tenors opportunity arose, I dropped everything — it was an immediate yes.

The four of you are always impeccably dressed when performing. How much time is spent on, I guess, wardrobe?

Wardrobe is a big part of what we do. Our job is to take people out of the every day for a special experience. There is attention to detail. We aim to sound, feel and look good. Armani is our sponsor. I couldn’t afford it on my own! I love getting dressed up in a tailored suit and skinny tie.

Do the four of you always get along? What was your last fight about?

(Laughs) Hell no, Don! We have the same goals in mind, and we’re very passionate about music. My father has a saying: “You need a fire to keep the house warm; just don’t let it burn it down.” Tension and competition come with creativity and artistry.

A healthy rub in the creative process pushes each other for a better show and album. We’re absolutely friends, but we’re also business partners and have an obligation to constantly evolve.

Tell me one thing fans would be surprised to learn about you?

My life is an open book — just look at my Facebook! I like dance music. My background comes from pop, EDM and dance music more so than the classical world.

What is a goal and/or resolution you have for 2016?

For this year, I have an attitude of gratitude. Things go so fast, so I need to remember to slow down and recognize and appreciate the experiences and that our dreams have come true — to step back and look at the work we’ve put in and be grateful.

We have the most incredible fans in the world. It’s a special relationship based on positivity and love. It’s always a good thing to pause and give thanks for life’s great gifts.

The Tenors are center stage at Reynolds Hall in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts today at 7:30 p.m.

Don Chareunsy is the Las Vegas Sun’s arts and entertainment senior editor and has been a journalist for nearly two decades.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

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