Don’t be fooled by the 14th-century music and innocent-looking singers wearing long gowns. England’s Mediaeval Baebes are anything but demure damsels of ye olden tymes. Their publicity material bills the 12 singers as “lagerswilling, smoking, cursing, tattooed sex goddesses.” And some churches in Britain have banned the group, which performs religious and secular medieval songs, after it was revealed that several of the Baebes had less than pristine backgrounds—one is an ex-stripper, another is a former convict and some members claim to be former witches. All this undoubtedly helped push both Baebe albums, Salva Nos and the new Worldes Blysse, to the top of the classical charts.
But according to Baebe Teresa Casella, a Hamilton native, the group’s main priority is strictly musical. ‘We take the music very seriously, but not ourselves,” says the 31-year-old, who has lived in London since 1989. Although only founder Katharine Blake is classically trained, adds Casella, “we spend a lot of time learning the harmonies and how to pronounce the lyrics, which are quite diffi-
cult because they are written in Old and Middle English.” The Baebes are currently on their first Canadian tour, performing primarily in churches. “We love the natural acoustics of churches,” says Casella, who along with Blake was also a member of the former British goth-rock band Miranda Sex Garden. “They’re more suited to our swinging medieval sound.”
From soul dude to lusty cartoon character
8aby boomers know and love Isaac Hayes for his deep, hot-buttered voice and his bestselling sound track to the 1971 film Shaft. Now, a younger generation is getting hooked on his distinctive voice—but this time as Chef, the lustful character on the popular animated television series South Park. The late-night show, featuring four foul-mouthed grade-schoolers, has become a surprise hit. And now that success has been parlayed into a CD, Chef Aid: The South Park Album, with off-color songs performed by Meat Loaf, Elton John and Hayes. “Sure, it’s a little controversial,” says Hayes who lives in New York City, “but I’ve been at the centre of controversy ever since I first shaved my head and started wearing chains.”
Hayes, 56, has seen his music career rise and fall during his 35 years in show business. In the late 1960s, he wrote some classic rhythm and blues songs, including Soul Man and Hold On! I’m Cornin’. The album Shaft earned him an
Academy Award and two Grammys, and popularized an image of Hayes as the ultimate soul dude—a persona that has influenced many contemporary rappers. It also led to sound track work on other ’70s “blaxploitation” films, but none of them matched his earlier success. And when he found himself $6 million in debt in 1976 after the record label he owned went under, Hayes turned to acting, with roles in feature films such as Escape from New York and TV series including The Rockford Files and Miami Vice. Now, his voice is back in demand—both on the airwaves and the concert circuit. But South Park fans attending his shows shouldn’t expect him to sing Chef classics like Chocolate Salty Balls (PS. I Love You). “It’ll depend on who’s in the audience,” he says, laughing. “It’s not for the stiff-necked types, although it would certainly wake them up.”
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