Rufus Wainwright and 1,500 Singers Sing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”

We’ve seen 1999 members of Choir! Choir! Choir! perform “When Doves Cry,” a moving, mass tribute to Prince. And they’re now back, 1500 strong, with Rufus Wainwright at the helm, singing Leonard Cohen’s beloved and oft-covered song, Hallelujah.” Performed at the Hearn Generating Station in Toronto, it must have been a wonderful thing to experience live in person.

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Comments (36)
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  • everett aison says:

    Interesting. I didn’t see one black face in the entire crowd. Sad.

  • Thomas Hancock says:

    Great song, but not one that lends itself to this setting.

  • Norma Rigg says:

    Jeff Buckley, K D Lang and Leonard Cohen, in no particular order, is way ahead of this version.

  • Benny Alba says:

    Wonderful setting. Unfortunate that the mixer didn’t lessen the guitar. Hard to hear the strength of so many voices when the mix isn’t quite as it could have been. Enjoyed it anyways.

  • K. S says:

    Agreed… the lack of diversity was distracting, at best

  • dmj says:

    It seems to me that sounding like or looking like the Mormon Tabernacle choir was not the point.

  • Melody Ann says:

    Throughally enjoyed it!

  • JV says:

    Lovely. Every time I think this song is played out, I’m wrong. Gives me chills every damn time.

    As for the crowd’s lack of ethnic diversity, who gives a shit? They’re not handing out college scholarships here, it’s a voluntary art event that I’m sure did not bar people at the door based on ethnicity.

  • Suzanne Brant says:

    I thought this was fantastic! I LOVED it!
    To all the naysayers: keep your negativity to yourselves. This is a weekly choir that is diversified, allows anyone, young, elderly, different cultures, & is aprox 1900 strong. To the person that “didn’t see one black person”….they are in this choir. Did you notice the camera was onstage & could only pan out to the first few rows of people signing? Out of 1500? No wonder you didn’t. They’re in the choir, just 400 were missing that night & you didn’t see everyone in the room.

  • Dan says:

    Really a stupid comment. Maybe next time you would like to put a sign in every person telling if they are christian, jew, gay, lesbian, latin, healthy, thin, bald…

  • Dan says:

    that was an answer for everett

  • Forest Gump says:

    “”Beauty is as Beauty does.”

  • shekara aulamem says:

    interesting perfomance

  • AB says:

    The only better thing than listening to it would be to sing it out loud with 1,499 of your friends. In Canada!

    Alas, I am no musician.
    So I would have filmed in B/W.

  • Pseudonym says:

    Looking at any mid-range crowd shot (e.g. see 2:12), the ethnic mix seems to be fairly close to the average demographics of Toronto to my untrained eye.

  • helen Paxson Waicunas says:

    It was beautiful however I agree that KD Lang and LeonardCohen are the best of the best. I will listen to Jeff Buckley.

  • helen Paxson Waicunas says:

    Thank you Cathy. Very nice rendition.

  • Steve Phelan says:

    I have yet to hear a version of this hymn that didn’t reduce me to helpless tears. I marvel at Leonard Cohen.

  • Michael Boyd says:

    “Who gives a shit?” (Re: the lack of black folks being present here)? People who are blCk Nd people who love block people, THAT’S who “should give a shit!” If this song is thought of as worshipful at all, let it be authentic and ask ourselves why weren’t our black brothers and sisters represented here? We can do better and I hope Rufus et al do better down the road on this front.

  • Ann marie says:

    Amazing how some people look for the holes in something lovely.

  • Beth_ says:


  • Denice Kopf says:

    I love this. Goodness knows I love a mass chorus. Singing together is so empowering and healing. Please come to Asheville, NC and make sure to let me know! <3


  • paula says:

    my first, second, and third thought, too: a lovely song, and how terribly segregated we are.

  • Kathy says:

    I had goose bumps throughout the entire performance. I just LOVE hearing this performed!!!!
    My heart is saddened to read the posts preceding mine about diversity…..not once did I look a skin tone/type…..I just LISTENED. That’s what is wrong with America today.

  • Barb T says:

    I too noticed that immediately

  • Rico says:

    If it was an all black choir would anyone have mentioned there not being a white, Asian, Latino, etc, etc. sometimes people need to shut their opinionated mouths and just enjoy something that is beautiful. Idiots.

  • Rick says:

    As a regular singer with C! C! C! And one of the 1500 that sang here, the diversity is what was made only be those who chose to participate. I know a number of gay folks in our group as well as Arabic and Jewish (the 2 leaders are both Jewish, one is also Japanese). Whether you saw any black or brown or aboriginal people in the video is certainly not intentional. All are welcome to sing with the choir and a number of black and Asian and gay and straight and……. and…… and…… people do every Tuesday and Wednesday evening and every chance we get to sing together! You don’t need a passport. You just need $5 for a lyrics sheet! You want to see more black, red, yellow, green or purple faces? Just bring yours. We don’t care what colour it is. We only care are you H, M or L? (High, Medium or Low voiced)

  • Victoria Spence says:

    thank you for setting some of these fools straight

  • K. Ritchie says:

    This moved my soul to tears the first and every time I hear it. Thank you.

  • Deanie says:

    Just found this – gave me chills:)

  • Daphne says:

    You don’t get it, do ya? At least you know it was a stupid comment.


  • Steve says:

    KD Lang does this song in a way that no one else can touch. Compared to her, all versions are lesser. Even Leonard Cohen said that.

  • Jan Adams says:

    Phenomenal! This song is beautiful. We are blessed to have it available so beautifully performed by many. I am so pleased to hear this rendition performed by many voices. How we will miss this wonderful man!❤❤

  • Laura perry says:

    Everett: Always looking for an issue.Why couldn’t you just let us enjoy this for what it was. Maybe you’re tone deaf and can’t carry a tune.

  • Connie D says:

    I could listen to this all day long. Just beautiful!! And everybody looked like they enjoying themselves and were immersed in the experience. I’d love to be a part of a massive choir like this. It’d be so much fun!!! And all the people I’d meet. What an incredible opportunity.

  • Juliane says:

    Strangely,that is the first thing i noticed. May i suggest to invite a more varied crowd to these events. It’s wonderfull to hear..just think how much better it could be with the inclusion of black voices.

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