He’s toured with such greats as Marvin Gaye, The Commodores, and Lionel Ritchie, and now Checo Tohomaso’s bringing the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir with him for a live show at the Sid Williams Theatre on Saturday Sept. 27, as part of the theatre society’s Blue Circle Series.
The Victoria Soul Gospel Choir and Checo Tohomaso, a professional musician and the choir’s enthusiastic director, blend Motown, R&B, and Afro-American gospel in five-part harmony with choreography. Their live show features a dynamic energy that is infectious.
Soul gospel has its roots in the early 20th century black community of the United States, and as it gained popularity inspired many other music styles such as current pop music and funk.
Checo Tohomaso was born in Florida and raised in Hawaii and Japan. Tohomaso’s musical journey began in early childhood where his first performances were as a member of a church choir. The son of an African-American Christian mother and Peruvian/African-American Jewish father, he grew up surrounded by different styles of ethnic music. When asked how his passion for Gospel music began, Tohomaso points out “90 per cent of American soul, R&B, and jazz singers have their musical foundation singing Gospel music in the church and I was heavily influenced by those artists at a very early age.”
Tohomaso has entertained with many notable performers throughout his career. He was honoured to play keyboards, percussion and sing background vocals for the last European tour of Motown legend Marvin Gaye.
As a keyboard player and background vocalist for the Green Machine, the band providing the sound for The Commodores and Lionel Ritchie, and he continued to tour the world extensively until Expo ’86 brought Tohomaso to Vancouver.
Following Expo ’86, Tohomaso toured the Canadian school system exposing youth to ethnic and soul music. In addition, he worked extensively with the First Nations population to provide positive motivation, from the perspective of a person of colour, and deliver messages of staying in school, staying off drugs, and racial tolerance.
Tohomaso’s current focus is to communicate the positive, healing qualities of soul music to as many people as possible. In order to achieve his goal of “bringing soul to the city”, Tohomaso also coaches soul, R&B, gospel and light jazz-style vocals, and teaches both keyboards and bass to students from across the lower mainland.
As part of his work with the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir, he travels to Victoria from Vancouver every other Tuesday for rehearsals.
Tickets for this Blue Circle Series performance are $23 for members, $28 for general public, $18 for students and groups of 10 or more.
Members can add this show to a ‘4 or more’ pack for just $18. Purchase in person at the Ticket Centre Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., by phone 250-338-2430, or online at sidwilliamstheatre.com.