What happens when 500-plus David Bowie fans gather to pay tribute to the late icon? Magic, that’s what.
Members of Toronto’s Choir! Choir! Choir! met to perform Bowie’s classic Space Oddity in the grand atrium of the Art Gallery of Ontario this past Saturday. If you haven’t heard it yet, pause here, take a listen and then come back to us…
If you’re anything like us, your heart just swelled a little, and you know what you’ll be singing for the rest of the day.
We asked C!C!C! founders Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman (collectively known as “DaBu”) just how this inspired and inspiring performance came together.
On why it had to happen
Nobu: “Space Oddity was among the first songs I obsessed over. My cool older brother had bought ChangesOneBowie and it was on high rotation for a long time. With Bowie dead, the image of Major Tom floating in space became really eerie, and amplified its beauty.”
Daveed: “David Bowie constantly reminded us that stepping outside your comfort zone is crucial to growth both as an artist and as a human. For that we owe him.”
On how it happened so quickly
Nobu: “I messaged Sean O’Neill at the AGO (Associate Director, Adult Programming and Partnerships) and because his response was so quick and overwhelmingly positive, we instantly felt like it would be possible. It’s unusual for a large organization like the AGO to turn around a big event like this so quickly, but Sean cut through all the red tape. By the end of Monday, we had had a few calls and figured it all out: we’d have the event when the gallery was closed so we could have the space to ourselves and proceeds would go to their youth and education programs – something we felt Bowie would endorse. We got busy to ask our friends to come record the event, for general help, and everyone immediately said yes.”
On just how powerful the name David Bowie really is
Nobu: “Tickets went on sale Wednesday noon and Sean said that it sold out in under ten minutes. It was pretty stressful because a lot of our regular members weren’t able to get tickets. That was the biggest challenge. But it just went to show the way people were feeling – he meant so much to so many.
Saturday night was outstanding. Walker Court was filled with 550 young and old Bowie fans. Some came in costume. The acoustics are enough to make you cry, and then we started singing Space Oddity. We all made an instant connection. And in under two hours, we taught our arrangement and had everyone singing in gorgeous harmony.”
On exceeded expectations
Nobu: “The AGO’s social media manager, Amanda Hadi, recorded part of the night on their Periscope account. It got over 70K views and 1 million hearts, featured on the Periscope page, and RT’d by Twitter’s CEO. I don’t really know what that means but I get the sense that our tribute resonated with Bowie fans around the world. And that’s all we were trying to do, pay our respects to an artist who left us with so much to think about, and dance to.”
Daveed: “To sing the song that first brought him into our collective consciousness as a final farewell was extremely emotional to say the least. I kept thinking, ‘Planet Earth is blue’, there’s got to be something we can do.”
Our thoughts, exactly.
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