With a distinctive style often described as Roxy Music meets Weather Report, Besharah gets its sophisticated edge from the combined talents of its four core members who include vocalist/lyricist, Lizzie Shanks, multi-instrumentalist/composer, Brandon Scott, bassist, Carey Gurden, and drummer, David Norris.
Arabic in origin, the name Besharah means coincidental occurrence, fated to be, which is the perfect handle, since fate was quite possibly the only reason that these four would have crossed paths otherwise.
A well-meaning musician friend, who had a strong sense of what they could accomplish, introduced Brandon and Lizzie. In their collaboration, Scott’s beautiful melodies, virtuoso finger-picking guitar style, and keen sense of musical dynamics, woven throughout Shanks’ finely crafted, thoughtful words, and distinctly powerful vocal ability, was magical from the start.
John Sakamoto of the Toronto Sun placed them fourth on his Anti-Hit List, even prior to their first album release, calling them “a promising duo, whose music is reminiscent of Hejeira-era Joni Mitchell, coupled with anything written by Dave Matthews in a minor key”.
A short eighteen months after meeting, Shanks and Scott released their debut CD entitled Cereal Suits, a critically acclaimed offering, which features twelve original tracks, as well as a sultry, yet souped-up version of Gershwin’s, Summertime. A further coup for Besharah came from the creation of their song, the Amazing, which was about 70s icon, the Amazing Kreskin. He took to the song penned in his honour so much so that he flew to Toronto from the U.S. to open for Besharah on the occasion of their CD release at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio. On the subject of being immortalized in song, Kreskin said, “the tune is called, The Amazing, but they’re the ones who are amazing. It was not a frivolous piece. These people did some job.”
Besharah’s Earth School, released in 2005, is as artistically cohesive a collection of songs as they could ask of themselves, which says a whole lot, given their well-earned reputation for musical refinement. Where Cereal Suits is polished and handsomely crafted, Earth School is a stunning collection of contemplative, yet dynamically diverse tunes that similarly to Cereal Suits, crest and fall emotively throughout gifted vocal and performances, and top-notch musicianship. Its name and content is completely reflective of the lessons remembered, trust built, and passion retained during the process of creating music in highly challenging times.
Besharah’s new disc, Heliotrope will be available soon.