Fri Jan 10, 2020

Multi-JUNO Award-winning Canadian Platinum-status producer, composer, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Birkett has a newly minted project on his plate, just ahead of a notable career milestone this Spring. 

Free Spirits prides itself on being more than just what meets the ear; The Free Spirits are a musical collaboration shedding light on life, the world, and how artists can help be a positive force for truth and change, they say. 

Together, the duo — Chris Birkett on guitar, drums, bass, and keys, and Tallon on flute, keyboards and vocals — are unlocking sonic synchronicity with a debut album, 11:11, and its premiere single “The Power of Our Love.”

Shari Tallon is a multi-instrumental: flute, tin whistle, keys, singer/songwriter and former owner of an indie label and Recording Studio. Chris Birkett is an award-winning producer, arranger, and composer and a talented singer, guitar player and percussionist. His music collaborations with A-list artists like Sinead O’Connor, Alison Moyet, Talking Heads, The Pogues, Bob Geldof, Quincy Jones, Thomas Dolby, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Steve Earle have sold over 100 million records and earned a Grammy, four Junos, the Polaris Music Prize and three international AMPEX Golden Reel Awards for excellence in the music business. 

Birkett’s career began in the 1970s as a guitarist, playing in London clubs before touring with Memphis artists Rufus Thomas, Ann Peebles and King Floyd. At 23, Chris was performing with the pop group Love Affair, whose song "Everlasting Love" ruled the UK charts. The following year, he joined the band Omaha Sheriff who had just signed a major recording deal with Tony Visconti, manager of Good Earth Records and producer for David Bowie and the Moody Blues. 

With Visconti as a mentor, Chris expanded his career to include producing, engineering and mixing many UK and international hits including Sinead O'Connor’s #1 hit "Nothing Compares 2 U". In 1991, his London studio was a beehive of activity that was rated #2 in the world on Billboard’s top studio charts. At the same time, Chris’ own single “Where Do We Go From Here?” was picked by Ed Bicknell (Dire Straits’ manager) to play alongside U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Marley, Tears for Fears and Queen on Polygram’s “One Voice One Love” album with proceeds going to CARE International’s African famine relief fund. 

In 1993, Chris left the UK for France and built a recording studio inside his chateau near Bordeaux. There he produced albums with the Buena Vista Social Club and other world-class musicians, including Etran Finatawa, whose album received the best world music album by Songlines Magazine in 2006. He then moved his studio to Paris, where he released his second album, “Freedom” and received growing acclaim for his work with world musicians like Algerian sensation Ali Amran. 

Although living abroad, Chris was no stranger to Canadian music, having produced three albums for Canadian artist Buffy Sainte-Marie, including her comeback album “Coincidence and Likely Stories in 1991 and the Juno award-winning album “Running for the Drum” in 2009. In 2012, he moved to Canada, opened a recording studio in Toronto and finished work on his third album "Be Creative" featuring performances from many talented Canadian artists including Glen Milchem (Blue Rodeo) and Rik Emmett (Triumph). 

Now a permanent resident of Canada, Chris’ latest credits include Buffy Sainte-Marie’s fourth album “Power in the Blood” (including the title track) with Jon Levine and Michael Wojewoda and “Medicine Songs” which he co-produced with Buffy, both on True North Records. Chris is currently busy performing at venues across Toronto, speaking at industry conferences (including Indie 101 in Manchester and Toronto), and creating new recordings for a range of talented Canadian musicians. 

Selected Songwriting and Recording
1976 - Come Hell or Waters High and Long Fingers in the Soft Rain, Omaha Sherrif, Tony Visconti, Producer - Good Earth Records/RCA
1981 - Affro Dizzi Act: UK Radio and Club hit
1983 - Kiss Of Life: Title track of Siedah Garret’s debut solo album produced by Quincy Jones
1993 - Men from the Sky Debut solo album. The single ‘Where Do We Go From Here’ was selected by Ed Bicknell (Dire Straits manager) and included on Polygram compilation ‘One Voice, One Love’ alongside U2, Peter Gabriel, Dire Straits, Bob Marley, Tears for Fears and Queen with proceeds to Care International’s Charity for Africa.
2009 - Freedom Second independent solo album recorded and released in Paris featuring Tony Visconti, David Hykes, Buffy Sainte-Marie, André Ceccarelli and Marc Berthoumieux.
2014 - Be Creative: Debut Canadian solo album featuring performances from Canadian artists including Glen Milchem (Blue Rodeo) and Rick Emmett (Triumph)

Selected Works Engineer/Producer
Bob Geldof - ‘Pale White Girls’.
Sinead O’Connor - ‘Nothing Compares 2U’.
Buffy Sainte Marie - ‘Coincidence and Likely Stories’, ‘Up Where We Belong’, ‘Running for the Drum’, ‘Power in the Blood’, ‘Medicine Songs’.
Steve Earle - ‘Copperhead Road’.
Mel Brooks - ‘It’s Good to be the King’.
Talking Heads - ‘Nothing But Flowers’.
Alison Moyet - ‘That ‘Ole Devil Called Love’.
Hot Chocolate - ‘Heartache Number Nine’.
Thomas Dolby - ‘The Golden Age of Wireless’.
Def Leopard - ‘Pyromania’. 

Producer and Engineer on Sinead O’Connor’s Grammy winning album ‘I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got’ and worldwide #1 Hit single ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’

Honours and Accomplishments 

Ampex Golden Reel award - 5 Star “Silk and Steel”
Ampex Golden Reel award - Mango Groove “Hometalk”
Platinum Record, Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U, 1990
2009 Juno award - Buffy Sainte Marie ‘Running for the Drum’ Producer of Buffy Sainte Marie’s come-back album “Coincidence and Likely Stories” in 1992. Same year shared recognition with Buffy for the first documented use of the Internet to send music files from UK to Hawaii.
2012 Polaris Music prize - Buffy Sainte Marie ‘Power In The Blood’
2016 Two Juno awards - Buffy Sainte Marie ‘Power In The Blood’
2018 Juno award - Buffy Sainte Marie ‘Medicine Songs’

Birkett — whose productions have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, including Sinead O’Connor’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, set to celebrate its 30th anniversary this March, as well as Buffy Sainte-Marie, Mel Brooks, Steve Earle, Bob Geldof, Alison Moyet, Dexys Midnight Runners, Talking Heads, The Pogues, and The Proclaimers — has joined with Shari Tallon, to create The Free Spirits. 

Together, the duo — Birkett on guitar, drums, bass, and keys, and Tallon on flute, keyboards and vocals — are unlocking sonic synchronicity with a debut album, 11:11, and its premiere single “The Power of Our Love.”

Watch “The Power of Our Love” here:

Birkett — whose song “Where Do We Go From Here” was featured alongside Dire Straits, Bob Marley, U2, Peter Gabriel, and Queen, among others, on 1993’s One Voice, One Love compilation album in support of CARE International — says he believes “in the universal language of music to make a change in humanity’s attitude to climate, culture, and race.”

Official Release Party:
C’est What
67 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1B5
Saturday, January 11th, 2020
9 pm

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