The No Shit Shirleys

8pm, SundayMarch 11th '07St. James Hall3214 West 10th Avenue
at Trutch St. in Kitsilano

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"Imagine something in between The Mediaeval Baebes and Sweet Honey in the Rock and you are starting to get the picture" — Penguin Eggs

The No Shit Shirleys

The No Shit Shirleys are eight soulful singing women offering up an acapella stew guaranteed to kick you in the pants! They sing everything (and I mean everything) from Cuban Carnival music and tragic Russian love songs to sweet Mandarin flirtations and wrenching Appalachian protests. Their harmonies are complex, their arrangements original and they sing in at least seven different languages. Their mission: to promote joy, love and happiness through singing and - if possible to save the world. Can they do it?: We say yes.

Master percussionist Joseph "Pepe" Danza will be the special guest for this not to be missed performance.

Website: www.shirleys.ca

The No Shit Shirleys are eight soulful singing women offering up an acapella stew guaranteed to kick you in the pants! They sing everything (and I mean everything) from Cuban Carnival music and tragic Russian love songs to sweet Mandarin flirtations and wrenching Appalachian protests. Their harmonies are complex, their arrangements original and they sing in at least seven different languages. Their mission: to promote joy, love and happiness through singing and - if possible to save the world. Can they do it?: We say yes.

In the beginning, Karla Mundy, Keona Hammond and Norah Rendell from the band Cleia, decided to organise a benefit for a Downtown Eastside Vancouver women's shelter. They gathered around them women from the Vancouver music scene with whom they'd always wanted to sing. As they worked together on the songs they talked about the women they admire, and the phrase "No Shit, Shirley" started being bandied about. The name stuck.

They met more future Shirleys in a local gospel choir. Friendships grew and a musical bond was formed. Karla came up with the idea of an eight-piece vocal group. Early inspiration and energy to get things going also came from Heather Werner, who sadly passed away two years ago. The Shirleys continue to sing at fundraising events for many causes about which they feel strongly, and this remains an important part of their vision. A great example is the performance they did in collaboration with the Stephen Lewis Foundation which raised $20,000 for UNAIDS in Africa.

They are not only about worthy causes and a political conscience, however. The Shirleys are all about music. Originally inspired by groups like Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir; they started learning cover versions of similar material. Things have progressed a long way since then. Their musical choices have become more adventurous and original. They now sing in at least 10 languages including Mandarin, Russian, Malay and Zulu. They are writing new material and finding old songs in many different places. Karla brought songs and rhythms back from a visit to Cuba. Victoria went to a Russian Orthodox Church to seek out material from a retired choir master. Karen taught them a popular Mandarin song. The latter they performed in front of an incredulous and appreciative audience of 600 people at Vancouver's Burns Night/Chinese New Year celebration, "Gung Haggis Fat Choy".

Having experimented with so many musical styles, they are now consolidating and polishing their sound for the recording of their upcoming CD; which will also feature legendary Vancouver-based Uruguayan percussionist Joseph 'Pepe' Danza, who will perform with the group this night.

As Keona points out, "It is not just a token song of this and a token song of that. It is material that creates a new culture; it's not just borrowing everybody else's."

"The main thing is to find songs that move us," concludes Karla.

An incredible amount of hard work goes into every song the Shirleys learn. All the members bring material to rehearsal, contribute to arrangements and suggest ideas. It can take weeks before the harmonies are well-honed enough for live performance.

Group membership is changing over time but their sound remains constant: eight soulful, distinctive, solo voices that blend harmoniously together.

So come along and witness the power of The No Shit Shirleys. Their music will fill your heart and move your soul.

— Tim Readman