Toronto folk trio The O’Pears are bringing their gorgeous harmonies to The Aeolian this Friday.

While singers Jill Harris, Meg Contini, and Lydia Persaud have performed at The Aeolian as backing vocalists for acts such as Royal Wood and Barbra Lica, this will be their first headlining show at the historic venue. This group is sure to ease your winter blues.

Jill, Meg and Lydia met while studying jazz at Humber College, forming The O’Pears in 2012. The group toured their 2016 debut album, Like Those Nights, across Canada and around the world. Their sophomore album, Stay Warm, released just last month. The band has been touring across Ontario, Alberta, and B.C. in support of the album.

the o'pears folk toronto
The O’Pears braving the cold. Photo by Mitchel Reed, provided by The O’Pears

Jill Harris chatted with LondonFuse about the album, The O’Pears’ sound, and what’s coming up next.

Braving the Cold

Stay Warm presents a striking mix of original tracks with lush instrumentation, contrasted with traditional holiday carols that feature acapella vocals. Jill explains that the group wanted to stray from “sugary sweet Christmas carols.” The result is stunning performances of Bleak Midwinter and Gloria in Excelsis, among others.

These traditional tracks conjure images of church choirs lit by candlelight.

Several of the original tracks on the album – including title track – evoke a contemplative, melancholy feeling, capturing the complex emotions surrounding winter and the holidays. Jill recalls the beginnings of the songwriting sessions the group held for Stay Warm.

“When we actually sat down to write a song about the season, we realized we didn’t want to write something really happy and cheery,” she says. “Not everyone’s experiences are like that.”

Warming up inside. Photo by Mitchel Reed, provided by The O’Pears

The O’Pears bring their well-rounded understanding of the winter season to their live experience.

“Whenever we perform Find the Sun live, we talk about seasonal affective disorder, because people really struggle with mental health issues during the season,” Jill shares. “To kind of find hope in that, that’s another thing that we wanted to bring to the album.”

After the Winter

Soon after their stop in London, the group will wind up their Ontario dates before heading south of the border. The O’Pears scored a show at a festival in Miami, Florida through an unexpected connection: American jazz fusion group Snarky Puppy.

The O’Pears connected with Snarky Puppy through their former Humber College faculty, some of whom are Snarky Puppy band members. The Canadian folk trio was invited to perform at Snarky Puppy’s groundUP festival in February. They are one of the only folk acts on the bill.

How will The O’Pears take their distinctive sound from wintry Ontario to Miami? Jill offered some thoughts.

“It’s interesting talking about snow and winter when you’re in the blazing sun,” she said. “But we want to share our Canadian experience no matter what.”

Jill added that for the Miami show, they will probably leave the Christmas carols out of the repertoire.

Warm up with The O’Pears at The Aeolian on Friday, January 25. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. You can check out The O’Pears on Facebook, Instagram, and Bandcamp.

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