By Carol Crenna
Singer-songwriter Fraser Walters is a handsome and angelic-voiced member of The Canadian Tenors foursome – now called simply The Tenors – that has experienced overwhelming success in the last five years. (With the new CD release, Lead With Your Heart, the quartet has dropped its first name “Canadian.”)
In five years, they have gone from performing in small venues to entertaining the Queen at Windsor Castle.The group was featured on Oprah with surprise guest Celine Dion, received rave accolades on Dr. Phil, sang for President Obama and G20 Summit leaders, and performed in Tel-Aviv with Andrea Bocelli.
They opened for Bill Clinton four times, toured with David Foster and, after a performance at a Foster party, were booked to sing at the Emmy Awards. They are now performing or recording about 300 days a year.
Walters is the group’s de facto leader. Here Walters talks about health, happiness and home, which is where the heart, and his piano, is.
CAROL: Where is home for you?
FRASER WALTERS: When you travel constantly, it’s a challenge to know where to call “home.” Home is where ever we’re staying. I am in Toronto today but leave for Boston tomorrow, and just came back from Halifax, Los Angeles and Portland.
Now I won’t be back to my apartment for over a month, or maybe longer if I add a trip to Australia to see friends and family there. To try to keep up with everyone is a challenge when we’re so busy.
When we began, Toronto was much more of a home base because we were building our name in Canada. But since our first album went platinum in Canada, we’ve been to many countries including Japan, Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.
But since I’m originally from Vancouver, and my family still lives there, BC truly feels like home. Eventually, though, I would like to have a home bases in a couple of different countries.
CAROL: You bought a condo in Toronto.
FRASER WALTERS: Right now, it’s nice to come “home” to a condo I can call mine in Toronto’s entertainment/fashion district. I bought it in 2005 when I was in the Lord of the Rings theatre production, and stayed when the Canadian Tenors were formed. We’re all officially based here.
It’s here that I have my piano; and that is where I do a lot of music arranging with an M-Audio digital system.
CAROL: Do you play your piano there at night?
FRASER WALTERS: Though I’ve had one or two late-night knocks on the door from neighbours, the concrete building is quite soundproof. The piano is in the loft overlooking the living space near my bedroom, and I look out the window at the view when I’m arranging, playing and singing.
CAROL: What does your condo look like?
FRASER WALTERS: I chose it because it’s a two-storey loft, and is a corner suite. It is modern, with an exposed concrete ceiling and concrete support beam running through it. There is lots of natural light with 17-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. I painted the walls myself with a rich, earthy green that reminds me of British Columbia, and orange for a funky twist.
CAROL: You said you have a couple of pieces of art.
FRASER WALTERS: My favourite art piece is a large poster of a brewery photographed in 1908 that our family owned a generation ago in New York City called the David Stevenson Brewing Co. The colours on my walls complement it.
I searched modern and vintage stores on King St. East (Toronto) for unique furniture during time off from rehearsals. I found a beautiful refinished dark wood table with a round base that used to be in a bar, and great secondhand chairs.
My contemporary couch is comfortable enough to have a nap on, not so narrow and “plastically” modern that you don’t enjoy sitting. It has a dark wood frame, chocolate leather base, and light coffee fabric.
CAROL: What does your kitchen look like; and do you cook?
FRASER WALTERS: The kitchen is easy to work in, but without typical granite counters and stainless steel appliances. I love cooking, and since months can go by that I’m not here, when in Toronto I prefer to cook at home rather than going to a restaurant. Sometimes I entertain friends, and we’ve even cooked here and taken it to their space.
CAROL: Are you a healthy eater?
FRASER WALTERS: If I had a yard, I would have a garden with herbs and vegetables. I prefer cooking with organics and shop at organic grocers like Whole Foods, and Kensington Market just around the corner from my condo. I buy natural foods from quinoa to wild fish and raw almonds — yes, I like to eat healthily.
CAROL: How do you de-stress?
I love outdoor exercise – I surf and wakeboard, whether in BC or North Carolina, and hit the trails mountain biking, and ski in the Alps. I grew up skiing at Whistler. My condo’s contents reflect this. It stores golf clubs, tennis rackets, a mountain bike, and well-used running shoes… my best companion on the road.
CAROL: Where do you run?
FRASER WALTERS: Running to explore a new environment becomes the highlight of travel during time off. I was in Halifax a couple of days ago and had a beautiful run along the ocean; I was in Los Angeles on the weekend running on the beach and on trails overlooking the Hollywood Hills; I was also in Portland, Oregon and there was a beautiful trail in the hills with massive trees.
I also work out at a gym and I have also done yoga.
CAROL: Athletics have always been a part of your life.
FRASER WALTERS: I was on the national track and field team at the Pan-American Jr. Games, and played varsity soccer while at the University of BC.
CAROL: What other aspects of health are important to you?
FRASER WALTERS: It’s important for singers to hydrate properly – to drink enough water – and to schedule vocal rest for recovery. Also, all of the Tenors take oil of oregano at the first sign of throat irritation.
CAROL: What is a favourite memory while travelling?
FRASER WALTERS: We played for 300 people at the Igloo Church in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Seeing elders from many different bands was an unbelievable experience, especially when we knew that they don’t hear this type of music often.
CAROL: You were on Oprah with Celine Dion.
FRASER WALTERS: The Oprah Show was an incredible experience since she has such international reach. We still get feedback from it from Egypt to South Africa to Australia.
Having Celine Dion perform with us was a total surprise – we had no idea why people started clapping when she came from behind and started singing – and it took everything I had just to stay standing and remaining calm to perform.
CAROL: You enjoy the charity work.
FRASER WALTERS: It’s always been a part of our mandate to give back since we know how fortunate we are to have success. Through the gift of music we have been able to meet world leaders; yet it’s another thing to actually use those political contacts to create positive change.
We have been to Swaziland, Africa to check the progress of the work done since we began our charity involvement for the Bulembu project in 2009. It was fulfilling to see children who are now very proud of their new homes and their first beds. We were in a concert that raised $1.3 million for the Voices for Bulembu. That is life-changing work ─ for them and me.
This original article by Carol Crenna was partly featured in Canada Wide Media’s BC Home Magazine and BC Living website