CHICAGO – Canadian pop singer Bernard Lachance sells tickets to his shows himself, keeping track of how many he’s distributed by wearing a T-shirt with a seating chart printed on it. Whenever he makes a sale, he strikes off seats with a marker.
After singing on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” on Tuesday, Lachance might need to start wearing a bigger size.
Lachance, a 32-year-old native of Montmagny, Que., who says he has no agent, manager or promoter, rented out the Chicago Theater with his own money for a June 6 gig, then canvassed the streets armed with one of his CDs and a pair of earphones. He tried to persuade strangers to listen to him sing, then purchase a CD or a concert ticket.
He caught Winfrey’s attention by posting a YouTube clip in which he asked Winfrey and her friend, Gayle King, to attend his show.
When King and a camera crew recently surprised him on the street in front of the theatre where he was peddling his CDs, he shrieked and cried. “I’m shaking like a fool,” he said at the time in a segment aired during his in-studio appearance.
“I’m going to remember that moment all my life,” he told Winfrey on Tuesday.
Winfrey said she would be out of the country on the night of Lachance’s performance, so she had him on the show for his U.S. television debut.
“You’ve got to start somewhere,” Lachance joked.
He sang, appropriately, “The Impossible Dream,” with verses in English and French. His parents watched via video link from their home in Quebec City, with his father wiping away tears following the performance.
Lachance said it cost him US$18,000 to rent the Chicago Theater, more than what he had in his bank account.
“I had ($18,000) in Canadian money,” he said to laughs from the audience. “I realized I had to go back to sell some CDs.”
Winfrey said she liked Lachance’s voice – “he’s pretty good,” she said – but also his initiative.
“This is also what I loved about this, the innovation and determination to follow your dreams,” she said.
Lachance’s performance closed Oprah’s show, which also featured appearances from NBA big man Shaquille O’Neal, Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am and “Saturday Night Live” stars Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis.