Lorraine Segato: Emerging From The Shadows

Lorraine Segato may have been out of the recording spotlight for the past 26 years but this doesn’t mean she’s been inactive! Working as an Artistic Direct, film-maker and writer, Lorraine has been developing her many other artistic skills. And although, she hasn’t been in the recording studio since releasing solo albums; her 1990 “Phoenix” and 1998 “Luminous City” releases even this is about to change.

Segato is about to drop a new solo record “Invincible Decency” which in turn will promote a new `one woman’ theatrical performance titled “Get Off My Dress” which Segato hopes to tour nationally by the end of this year.
“I am not the most prolific writer and creator of music unless I have something to say,” confirmed Segato via telephone from her Toronto abode. “I had been writing a one-woman show for almost five years now and suddenly, all these new tunes started to come up. It was like writing this play had opened the gate to all this new music.”
“So I thought If I could release a new record, this would shine a spotlight on my play and then when I got my play off of the ground, that could then promote the record, so promotionally everything could feed off of each other,” Segato added.
[quote]“I am not an observer like most singer-songwriters, I like to turn challenges into positive moments.”[/quote]
The play, which is loosely autobiographical in that it focuses on a young immigrant girl (Segato is second generation Italian), living in a small town who aspires to be a musician and all the things that transpire as a result of her career moves will feature a combination of acting, musical performances and film clips featuring Segato who has also written both the play and the musical score.

“When I turned 50 I said to myself I wanted to do something different. I wanted to feel like I was really stretching myself in another creative realm” explained Segato. “I wanted to feel like I was stretching myself into another sphere that was both frightening and exciting at the same time.”

Musically “Invincible Decency” is a fresh take on a lot of original concepts, according to Segato. “There’s an affinity to Parachute Club music in that there’s a lot of dance grooves and an up-tempo kind of celebratory vibe,” announced Segato. “There’s a wide variety of influences; reggae, soca, jazz-funk, there’s even a latin piece that I sing in Italian.”


Recording music has not come easy to Segato. “I am not an observer like most singer-songwriters,” she allowed. “I like to turn challenges into positive moments.”

Yet when Segato and drummer Billy Bryans decided to park Parachute Club in 1988, she found it difficult to come to terms with going solo. “There was a period of time, when I was recording my first solo album that I found it painful to talk about the old band. I mean at the time we folded the band, we were still on top of things creatively but we couldn’t handle the business side of things, we were idealists in a world that was very cynical.

In reality, Parachute Club’s time in the music spotlight only lasted seven years and three albums, but what a seven years! Having worked with Laura Conger in a popular club band called Mama Quilla 11 which espoused the same sexual and social political themes that were later trademarks of Parachute Club, Segato found herself joining Bryans (who sadly died in 2012 from lung cancer) when he needed to form a one-off band for a Festival of Festival engagement in October 1982.

Such was the reaction to that one performance that Segato and Bryans decided to keep the vibe alive by recruiting an ensemble of musicians including Conger, Margo Davidson, Julie Masi, Dave Gray and Steve Webster to record the debut Parachute Club album in 1983, recorded by then, unknown producer Daniel Lanois.

When the album’s debut single `Rise Up’, fuelled by a vibrant video, hit the airways, the Parachute Club literally exploded onto Canada’s music scene. “There was a freedom about that song, a feeling of unbridled joy, I remember The New Music television show, just playing the hell out of that song,” mused Segato. “It was just so uplifting. And coming at a time when all the rock bands like Rush, Triumph and Loverboy were dominating the charts, it was just so different, it was contagious.”

1983 was the band’s year. They won Most promising Band Juno award and `Rise Up’ won top single and Parachute Club followed their debut up with “Dancing At The Feet Of The Moon” in 1984 which continued the band’s domination of the charts.

Parachute Club Circa 1986
Parachute Club Circa 1986

But there was trouble in paradise. “Our audiences embraced us, but we did get some backlash from the music industry,” noted Segato. “Some people thought we were overtly sexual when all we were doing was preaching equality. There was a lot of negativity. Some people were saying; ‘Why are you so political, why do you have to have an opinion?. Why can’t you just sing regular songs like everyone else. It was so weird.’

Even though the band did nothing to hide their political ideas they were often interpreted as being a gay band – which they weren’t, Segato reports a lot of homophobic attitudes were directed at the band – especially in Western Canada during the release of their third album. “Our shows were doing okay but we met some resistance at radio. Our record company people were telling us that certain radio stations complained that Billy was hitting on their male staff and that I was hitting on their wives. Iwe were shocked because that couldn’t have been further from the truth.”

“I’m pretty sure there was a carry-on effect with our label in the States,” she continued. “We were so big in Canada but they couldn’t get any traction in the States”.

BMG, which represented the band in the States felt the answer was to draft John Oates, one half of their mega record-selling Hall & Oates band in to produce their third release, the 1988 “Small Victories” record. They also wanted to refocus the band as Lorraine Segato & Parachute Club and even make their sound more commercially acceptable to the U.S market.

“What they did was create a watered down version of what made us successful in the first place,” responded Segato. “We were a collective energy, the band was a musical ensemble but they tried to tamper with what was working for us. John’s more individualistic.. The album’s first single “Love Is Fire” which was a duet with John was fine but it wasn’t a Parachute Club song. So we had band members leaving and the rest of us were being accused of selling out.”

[youtube width=”600″ height=”338″ video_id=”mpboq5sNt8Q”]

Segato feels the band could have weathered the storm but their personal management situation was toxic. ‘There was a lot of stress and strain within the group, we needed someone to stick up for us and challenge the record label but we never got that support. Billy and I owned the name and we could have started fresh with new members but we just felt run down and we succumbed to the pressure.”

The band has reappeared sporadically but with Margo Davidson dying in 2008 and Bryans falling to lung cancer in 2012, it isn’t possible to stage the original lineup. However Segato reveals that she has been working with surviving members on new Parachute Club material, and with an up-dated remix of `Rise Up’ being recorded for the 2014 World Pride Festival to be staged later this year in Toronto, indications are that Parachute Club may reunite to participate in the festival.

“Hey you never know,” concludes Segato. “No one has said anything yet but I’m sure something will transpire. I mean `Rise Up’ is such a meaningful song in so many ways, come to think of it, most of our old material was unbelievably relevant.”

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