By Graham Rockingham
The Hamilton Spectator (Jun 16, 2017)
Forty Bishop Ryan high school students, all members of the BR Expression choir, will back pop sensation Lorde Sunday night at the nationally televised Much Music Video Awards.
The choir, which won 10 awards at the International Heritage Music Festival last month in New York, was selected by Lorde's Canadian record label to back the 20-year-old New Zealand singing star on a live performance of her latest single "Perfect Places."
BR Expression director Dave Tabone, the head of the school's music program, said the high school group got the high-profile gig with the help of a Bishop Ryan alumnus Tony Szambor who now works for the Universal Canada in Toronto.
"We had to send videos, photos and bio to Universal and Lorde loved us," Tabone said Friday. "They didn't look elsewhere after they saw our proposal. We just got the green light Tuesday morning. It's a pretty awesome opportunity for the students."
The song, from Lorde's new album "Melodrama," is an indictment of "graceless" party nights with a closing chorus of "All the nights spent off our faces, trying to find these perfect places."
Lorde, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O'Connor, has said the song had it's origin during a long hot summer spent in New York.
"I couldn't shake the feeling that everyone I knew or saw was searching for something — trying to transcend the news and the screaming pavements, drinking that one drink hoping it'd get them someplace higher," Lorde has been quoted about the song.
BR Expression singer Michaela Keddy said she admires Lorde because the singer made such a huge impact at a very young age, noting Lorde scored her first No. 1 hit "Royals" when she was 17.
"It's so amazing how successful she could become and be so young," said Keddy, 18.
"Yeah, when she started she was younger than we are now," added Grade 12 student Mason Doerr.
Fellow choir member Madelyn Cryer said she's also interested in meeting Joe Jonas, who is cohosting the event with Alessia Cara.
"I remember listening to (the Jonas Brothers) when they were that teen sensation boy band," Cryer said. "Now he's evolved, and he has a funky-cool sound with his new band."
Tabone said the choir will rehearse with Lorde in Toronto twice Saturday before going live Sunday night.
"Lorde is very hands on and she's going to want to get involved in exactly what they're doing," Tabone said. "They're going to meet her, 100 per cent."
The original studio version of "Perfect Places" contains an F-bomb in the chorus, but the BR Expression singers won't have to pronounce the word on Sunday night.
"The production crew pulled the F-bomb for the MMVAs," Tabone said.
The MuchMusic Video Awards, which air Sunday at 9 p.m. on Much and CTV, also feature performances by Hamilton's Arkells, Iggy Azalea, Imagine Dragons, Jazz Cartier and Hedley.firstname.lastname@example.org
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