By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
His name was known across the country over the summer, but not for the reasons he had hoped for.
Now a former member of The Tenors, Remigio Pereira gained national notoriety after altering the words to O Canada during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in San Diego, inserting “All lives matter” into the anthem. That phrase has been used by some as a counter argument to Black Lives Matter, an international civil rights movement campaigning against violence, racism and poor treatment of black people.
Speaking with The Oshawa Express ahead of his upcoming show at the Regent Theatre, Pereira says that was not at all what he meant.
“Black lives matter just as much as anyone else’s, but why are they not being treated with the same kind of respect?” he tells The Oshawa Express.
“People who haven’t researched me, they’d claim that I’m a racist, but if they actually did the research, they would see that I’ve been to Africa, to Kenya, raised money to build schools and raise awareness. I’ve been to Swaziland, which has the highest rates of HIV in the world, where the vast majority of the population has a huge generation gap and they’ve been left with over 200,000 orphans to take care of.”
Pereira says his decision to alter the words to O Canada came after the death of Alton Sterling, a black man shot dead by police in Baton Rogue days before the All-Star Game. Sterling’s death, along with the death of another black man, Philandro Castle, in Minnesota the next day, lead to a number of anti-police protests turn violent, including seeing five police officers in Dallas killed. A police officer in Baton Rouge was also assaulted during a protest, having several teeth knocked out.
The U.S. Department of Justice has taken over the investigation into Sterling’s death.
Pereira’s actions at the All-Star Game did not come without consequences, as he was fired from The Tenors.
“It hasn’t been easy. It’s been a learning experience,” he says of his time since being dismissed from the group.
“I’ve learned to know who really stands behind you, who has your back and who truly takes the time to understand who and what you really are about. I’ve had some great, positive feedback from people and I’ve had some negative feedback from people. It’s a snapshot to where we are in society today.”
And where society is today, the now-former Tenor says, needs to turn away from violence and towards healing.
“People need to speak out and understand the situation – it isn’t people killing people, it’s the system that’s creating the social injustices and the dire straits that these people have nowhere else to turn to, and nobody’s paying attention,” he says.
“All of our lives are important, and that’s why we need to put a magnifying glass on the true cause of these problems, and it’s corporate greed. Follow the money trail.”
A new path
Now going forth on his music career sans The Tenors, Pereira is launching a Canadian tour for a project he started last year with Pavlo Simtikidis, a Juno-nominated guitarist.
“It was two eight-hour sessions that spawned a whole album, and we decided to have it tuned to 432, which is a healing frequency,” Pereira says, referred to the 432Hz frequency, which some believe holds healing properties.
“If you choose the frequency wisely, you can actually help the organism, your body. They use sound frequencies to destroy cancer cells today.”
With this project and others on the way, Pereira says the world has not heard the last of him.
“Music, for me, is always going to be in my heart and nothing is going to change. The message is always of love for me, and it has always been important to bring people together, to unite people in the goal of the betterment of humanity,” he says.
“I’m just going to continue doing what I love and help people along the way. Nothing can stop the power of love.”
Pereira and Simtikidis are set to take the stage at the Regent Theatre on Thursday, Oct. 13, starting at 8 p.m.
“I’ve performed in Oshawa before, with The Tenors at the General Motors Centre, and I used to live in Pickering, not very far, so it feels like I’m going back home.”