Singing or acting, Vancouver’s Candus Churchill’s got soul. It don’t mean a thing if it doesn’t swing from deep inside up and out to embrace audience and performer in the creative instant. Dedication to integrity guided her artistic journey from Kentucky, where she was raised in a musical family, to Washington D.C, Los Angeles and Japan before her 1980 arrival in Vancouver with rock funk group Dragon Fly. The band met with immediate success in town and toured all across Canada before settling in Vancouver where most of them still live. Post Dragon Fly Candus sang several gigs before she had her first chance to act onstage when she joined the cast of The Black and Gold Review, then running at The Arts Club Theatre, while Lovena Fox took a break to appear on Star Search in L.A. Smitten by the experience, bitten by the acting bug, Candus took some classes and paid her dues as a background performer in television and film before landing speaking roles. Film credits include The Hit Man with Chuck Norris and Shanghai Noon with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson. On television she has performed in 21 Jump Street, DaVinci’s Inquest, Dead Zone and Smallville. British Columbia theatre audiences have seen her in Little Shop of Horrors, To Kill a Mocking Bird, First You Dream, Wang Dang Doodle, Santa’s Got Soul and many more
Candus takes justifiable pride in the part she has played in the development of Vancouver’s current vibrant black gospel music scene. When she arrived The Universal Gospel Choir was the sole group performing the music of her roots. Candus and fellow black American artists Marcus Mosely, Sibel Thrasher, and Lovie Eli came together as Circle of Voices which, under Candus’s direction, evolved to Gospel Experience, a seminal force in Vancouver gospel music for the past twenty years. Rosalind Keene, Joe Chappel, Nadine States, Mike Henry, Tom Pickett, Leora Cashe, Ron Small and Will Sanders, a veritable Who’s Who of gospel in Vancouver, have all joined the founding four onstage to grow gospel. Now, thanks to Gospel Experience, The Universal Gospel Choir, The Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir, The City Soul Choir and that powerhouse trio, The Sojourners, have joined them in spreading the music of “the saints rejoicing, the sinners moaning, the tambourines racing, and all those voices coming together and crying holy unto the Lord.” In addition to these groups and others we can listen to Gospel Train with Marc Lindy and Ray Bolen every Friday evening on Vancouver co-op radio, CFRO 102.7FM.
You’ve never experienced the music of the saints rejoicing, the sinners moaning, the tambourines racing, and all those voices coming together and crying holy unto the Lord? You must check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xW0ZVPvycwk
Tom Pickett has joined Candus in many theatre productions, often as her onstage husband . In First You Dream they played the parents of Portia White, the first Black Canadian concert singer to win international renown despite difficulties obtaining bookings because of her race. Wang Dang Doodle, the Harlem musical conceived and co-directed by the late Denis Simpson at The Arts Club Theatre, brought Candus and Tom together again as a Thespian couple. As a singing duo you may have seen them in East End Blues and All That Jazz, a performance which tells the story of Vancouver’s Black Community in the Strathcona neighbourhood. If you didn’t, catch their Joyful Testimony Vancouver International Jazz Festival performance on June 24th at noon at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church.
Thanks to Candus and her friends, Vancouver’s got soul too.