Celebrity Drive: Fraser Walters of The Tenors

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Quick Stats: Fraser Walters, The TenorsDaily Driver: 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport (Fraser’s rating: 8.75 on a scale of 1 to 10)Favorite road trip: Pacific Coast HighwayCar he learned to drive in: 1989 Ford Aerostar and 1992 Mercury TopazFirst car bought: 1991 Mercury Topaz

After making it in the music industry as part of the successful multiplatinum group The Tenors, formerly The Canadian Tenors, Fraser Walters is driving his first splurge car, a 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport.

“It was a lease that my wife had, and we had some decisions to make considering some other cars at the time,” he says. “We decided the deal was great to buy this one out.” His car isn’t always in Los Angeles, where he is based half the time, but it probably will be more when he is off the road for a bit. “We were making a move from New York to Los Angeles, and it’s got a double sunroof thing, which is awesome for the climate in L.A. with the amount of sunshine and being outside all the time. It’s served us really well.”

After years of owning used cars and then not needing one when he was on the road with his former group, Chanticleer, this is his first new ride. Walters gives his Mercedes an 8.75 out of 10 rating. “It is a Sport package, so the car’s a bit lowered and a little sportier,” he says. “It’s got 4Matic and is a V-6, and it’s got a lot of pep for sure. The tinted windows—it’s a beautiful car—and that German engineering. The European styling is beautiful.”

But with a growing family, he’ll probably upgrade to a larger ride. “We’re looking around these days, and if there’s a new purchase to make, we might look at something like a Tesla,” he says. “It’s a pretty exciting car, and the fact that you’re not relying on fossil fuels, there’s a lot of positives, let alone the 0 to 60 in 3 seconds.”

His other vehicle he considers a treat is his 2003 Pro Street Fast Track custom chopper. “It’s a big bike; it’s 100-cubic-inch motor, and it’s a six-speed transmission,” he says. “It’s a beautiful bike. It’s pretty loud.”

Walters got the C300 in 2009 after he met his wife, Kelly Levesque, who recently sang duets with Michael Bolton on his tour. Walters met Levesque when the two were on tour with David Foster.

Car he learned to drive in

Walters grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, where his parents and two older brothers taught him to drive at neighboring parking lots and open fields.

The cars he first drove included his dad’s 1989 Ford Aerostar van and his mom’s 1992 Mercury Topaz, “She had a four-door Topaz, and I ended up buying a two-door, and I joked that it was a sports coupe. It was fairly heinous. It was fun,” he says. “It was a great car when I was 16 to get to high school. It’s pretty unreal when you think about how young you are when you’re given that amount of responsibility. It’s pretty wild when you look back at it. I’m very lucky that I lived to tell about it.”

The 1996 Ford Aerostar is pictured.

Although he learned on the Ford Aerostar and his mom’s Topaz, the first time Walters got his hands on the wheel of a car that could have been potentially dangerous was when he was 5 years old, playing in his parents’ old Volvo.

“We had this beautiful 1975 Volvo, and somehow I found my way into the car when my parents weren’t looking, and I put it in neutral and let the emergency brake out and the car rolled down our angled driveway, and I was screaming like you wouldn’t believe,” he says. “The car went across the road and up onto our neighbor’s driveway. By that time my mom heard me screaming. She jumped through the window and pulled the e-brake before we hit the garage on the other side of the road.”

When it was time to take his driver’s test, Walters took it in his dad’s Aerostar on a snowy day in Vancouver. “When they asked me to parallel park, there was space between two cars, but the only reason there was space was because there was a pile of snow,” he says. “I looked at the instructor, and I’m like, ‘You really want me to back in there?’ He’s like, ‘Oh yeah, you’ll be fine.’ Literally, I drove back, and we were up on two wheels because I was parallel parking into a snow bank, but I passed, so that’s the Canadian driver’s course.”

Walters recalls a couple of close calls driving as a teen, including once in the Mercury Topaz. “I remember driving over Lions Gate Bridge, which is a huge bridge in Vancouver, and we were picking up speed a little,” he says. “My friends were in another car, and I remember spinning out. It was luckily late at night and no cars were coming the other way.”

Another time, at around 19 or 20, he was driving in winter weather on a highway from Kelowna, British Columbia, down to Vancouver with his parents in the car. They were going up a long incline after a snowstorm. “There was crazy ice, and the back end of the Aerostar, we lost it, and I overcorrected the other way, luckily missing hitting the median,” he says. “We did a full 360 and ended up in a snow bank on the right side of the side of the highway, and then an 18-wheeler went flying by us, and we were all sitting there total white-knuckled. The winter can bring some challenging conditions. I’m just lucky that I made it through unscathed. That was just a totally unavoidable scenario where the back end lost control because of the ice, and luckily we did OK.”

First car bought

His mom’s 1992 Mercury Topaz was a gray four-door. Walters bought a black, two-door 1991 Mercury Topaz as his high school car.

“My first job was being a newspaper delivery guy, but then I was a painter and would do construction handyman type stuff,” he says. “But I was also singing. I was very lucky to start working when I was 8 years old when I started professionally getting paid. Between the odd jobs and music, I was able to afford paying for my own stuff, and it gives you a great sense of independence when you’re growing up. You learn the value of a dollar, and our parents instilled in us that things don’t come for free. We didn’t have a money tree in the backyard, so it was good hard work that helped me get those things.”

He drove the Topaz into his first year in college and then upgraded to a used mid-1990s gold-colored Saturn SL2 for $7,000 Canadian.

“I did a lot of research,” he says. “I was on Consumer Reports. I did tons of research, and that was one of the only North American cars that had the same rating as Honda Civics and stuff, and it was not quite as high-priced. I liked it. It was leather interior, and it was a five-speed. It was great.”

He later sold the Saturn when he moved to San Francisco to sing with Grammy-winning group Chanticleer.

“I was with them in 2003 for a couple years, traveled with them around the world,” he says. “I used to listen to them when I was a kid when I was 12. I had their records, so it was an absolute dream come true to sing with them. I was based in San Francisco, but I didn’t need a car because I was only home for three days a month. We traveled so much with Chanticleer. It was incredible. It was a total dream come true. We’d sing at some of the world’s most famous concert halls in Europe and Australia and Asia.”

His current ride, the C300, is the car he bought after the Saturn. “I started to get more into real estate, so I do these days put more money into houses than I do cars, but that might change at my midlife crisis,” he says.

Favorite road trip

Although Walters says it’s “probably a cliché for California,” one of his favorite road trips is driving up Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

“It’s so hard to beat,” he says. “It’s just so stunningly beautiful, the nature is so raw. It’s pretty wild. But we have done trips—with my wife—in Indonesia, across Europe. Our courtship when we were getting to know each other, we were having to meet in places like Amsterdam or even in Africa because we were doing some work over there. So we’ve really seen the world, and there is so much out there.”

They will often rent a motorcycle, a car, or moped when they are traveling, such as when they were in Italy. “We drove all over Italy,” he says. “That’s a total highlight. We drove into Cinque Terre, and we did a trip all around Italy. We went from Rome through Sienna to Florence and Cinque Terre and then across through Bologna, Verona, and ended in Venice. Being able to see all those parts of Italy was incredible, and we’ve done trips through the Alps and gone skiing.”

The road trip around Italy was particularly memorable for its beauty throughout the country. “Sienna is unbelievable,” he says. “You’re driving through this old town, one lane, sort of alleyways, all cobble stone streets. You’re almost surprised that you’re even allowed to drive in such a beautiful, old historic town. It’s an amazing place. The wine and the olive oil taste better there than anywhere else in the world.”

Although they saw great structures such as the Coliseum in Rome, their goal was the town of Verona, where he went to the Arena di Verona as a tourist just to see where the legendary Three Tenors famously sang.

“There’s a natural acoustic, so as a singer it was a really great place to experience,” Walters says. “So it was neat to see that building. But Venice had so much to offer. We performed in Venice. Kelly and I went a little early and experienced a holiday and then we met up with the guys for a gig.”

“Under One Sky”

“We’ve been very lucky,” he says of his time with The Tenors. “We’ve had an amazing ride.” “Under One Sky” is the latest album by The Tenors, who’ve until recently been touring nonstop around North America and Europe. They’ve started work on a Christmas album, which is slated for an October release, followed up with a big North American Christmas tour in November and December.

Half of this current album was co-written by the members of the group. “It was amazing to have the support of our record label, supporting us as songwriters and saying, ‘Wow, your music stands up to all the submissions that we’re getting from known writers, and we really want to show your abilities and talents as songwriters, as storytellers,’ ” Walters says.

There’s a wide range of music on this album. “You’ll hear everything from things classical like operatic arias like ‘Grenada,’ all the way to songs that we’ve written ourselves, like ‘Drowning in Love’ or ‘I Remember You’ or ‘Under One Sky,’ the title track,” he says. “It really does run the gamut, and we have an amazing demographic that’s very wide ranging in age. It’s a family-friendly show. We’ve got kids that come who argue with their grandparents about what their favorite songs are. Most of our audience is in that 40 to 60 age, but we love to include new audience members every time we do a new project.”

Although it’s not the first album with original music by the group, Walters says it seems that every record they do, there’s a greater percentage of their own original songs. “It’s great to have the support of Universal,” he says, “and they’re getting our music out there, which is amazing.”

They play in Los Angeles on July 29, Saratoga, California on July 30, and Albuquerque on August 6. For more information, visit Tenorsmusic.com.