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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