Oasis Vocal Jazz grew out
of Fruit Cocktail '85, an annual fund-raising concert for
Toronto's Lesbian and Gay community Appeal. In 1986
the group became known as Oasis.
The number of performers in Oasis has fluctuated from its original 8 to more than 20 in the early 1990s (pictured here) down to its current configuration, and now includes a mixture of gay and straight members.
In 1993 with the arrival of new musical director Sara Clarkson, Oasis began a gradual shift from elaborate staging towards a focus on achieving the rich, seamless vocal blend that has become the trademark of Oasis Vocal Jazz today.
Cultural festivals in which Oasis has performed on stage include the "First Night" New Year's Eve celebration at Toronto City Hall, Lesbian and Gay Pride in Toronto, ARTSweek, the Kiwanis Festival, Ontario Vocal Festival and Celebrate Toronto Street Festival.
Oasis has performed at hospitals and senior citizens' homes, in downtown plazas and at events at Ontario Place, Roy Thomson Hall and Harbourfront.Twice, Oasis has been beamed coast to coast on Breakfast Television, a morning show produced by CITY-TV in Toronto.
Charitable and non-profit organizations which have benefitted from Oasis performances have included the Canadian Hearing Society, Canadian Liver Foundation, Ontario Literacy Council, the Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal, Good Samaritan Hostel for men, Nellie's Hostel for women, Street Outreach Services, Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, Toronto PWA Foundation, Casey House Hospice, Hill House Hospice and Keshet Shalom.
Oasis has had the opportunity of performing with many outstanding artists and vocal groups throughout the years. Here are a few friends of OVJ.
In the world of comedy, few ever achieve the success and universal acclaim of Phyllis Diller. Oasis performed with Ms. Diller at a fundraising concert at the Spectrum Disco in Toronto.
Oasis performed two benefit shows at the New Century Theatre with Rita. The gigs were sponsored by the Broadview-Greenwood Liberal riding association, and proceeds went to single-parent organizations in the area
In 1993, Oasis was pleased to host a newly-formed 20-voice choir, Singing Out! The Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Toronto. Today, Singing Out! numbers over 100 singers, and has grown into one of the best loved non-auditioned choruses in North America.
The Parachute Club
The Parachute Club (Rise Up!, Dancing at the Feet of the Moon) was one of the seminal creative forces that burst out of the Toronto club scene into international prominence in the 1980s. Oasis had a great time opening for The Parachute Club at the Silver Dollar on Toronto's legendary Spadina strip.
In 2001 Oasis was pleased to host Tone Cluster, a fabulous chamber ensemble from Ottawa, in the first half of a reciprocal series that would see Oasis travel to Ottawa in 2002.
Oasis opened for Mediaeval Baebes at a show in July 2000 during the bes' first Canadian visit. At the time, the Baebes were starting to shoot videos for their third CD Undrentide. Based in England, Mediaeval Baebes is an all-women ensemble that performs Renaissance music infused with modern ambience.
This women's chorus formed in 1997 has performed at numerous festivals, memorials and community events. IRIS sings a powerful blend of contemporary and folk/spiritual music composed by and composed for women. Oasis had the pleasure of performing with Iris in 1998 and again in 1999.
In 1998, Oasis performed three holiday shows at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre as guests of Forté, the Toronto Men's Chorus. The boys were wonderful hosts and the audiences were delighted by Forté's humour and innovative staging