Checo Tohomaso honours women who helped raised him, with Victoria Mother’s Day concert

Soulful singer takes the stage at St. John the Divine

For a soul singer who has performed with Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie, Celine Dion and Toni Braxton, a small concert at St. John the Divine Anglican Church might seem sub par, but for Checo Tohomaso, it’s extremely important.

That’s because on May 12 he will perform a special concert with the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir for Mother’s Day, in honour of the many women who were mother figures to him.

Tohomaso was born in Florida, but moved around a lot, growing up in Hawaii and Okinawa, Japan and also spent a good portion of his childhood in New Orleans. While he lived with his biological mother in the summer, he grew up the rest of the year with his aunts and grandmother.

“There were about four women in my life that really helped me,” he says. “And, each one had a different strength.”

He says his aunt Lilly, from New Orleans, was an inspirational and sweet woman who taught him about God, and baked him his favourite upside-down pineapple cake.

RELATED: Non-profit gathering makeup for Mother’s Day

His Aunt Bea was an inspirational teacher with a master’s in education who lived in Florida, until her recent passing. “She was 96 years young,” Tohomaso says. “She went to the gym every day to the last.”

But it was with his aunt Willy Mae, he spent most of his time, and she nurtured him, baking banana pudding with meringue.

His grandmother, Leona, was also a huge figure in his life.

“They all gave me a piano, and got me piano lessons,” he says. “They were supportive and let me do my own thing because they knew as long as I was busy, I’d stay out of trouble.”

Tohomaso said that it’s because of his diverse childhood that he can now relate to so many people. The Vancouver-based artist acts as the music director for the Vancouver Outreach Community Sweet Soul Gospel Choir, and still travels, performs and speaks to youth.

“I tell them to stay true to the music from the heart, don’t care about money, it will take you places you’d never believe.”

Tohomaso said the Mother’s Day concert is for everyone with motherly figures in their lives, whether they’re still here or have passed on.

“A lot of people have lost them, we want songs to comfort, encourage and rejoice,” he says.

RELATED: Royal Oak Burial Park giving out free carnations for Mother’s Day

Tohomaso takes the stage Saturday May 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and proceeds benefit the St. John the Divine food bank, which he says, would be all his aunts would want.

“What do moms always do?” Tohomaso asks with a laugh. “They feed you.”

For more information, or to get tickets, visit victoriasoulgospel.ca

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Victoria police search for missing senior last seen in James Bay at noon today

Elsie Habbick, 75, is quite mobile, despite suffering from dementia

PHOTOS: 120th Annual Victoria Day Parade

Check out the photo gallery, watch our live feed of the festivities

Reporter gets serious with Tour de Victoria’s 140km ride

Travis Paterson’s training blog for Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria on Aug. 18, Volume 1

Victoria Day Parade returns to celebrate 120 years

F18 Hornets to honour #HumboldtStrong with first ever fly past, kicking off parade

Preserving Victoria’s character buildings costly, but worth it

Pemberton and Son recognized for heritage preservation of Promis Block

Oak Bay optometrist challenges community to target 100 for Ride Don’t Hide

Annual event to raise funds, awareness for Canadian Mental Health Association June 24 in Windsor Park

SAR scaling back in Kilmer search, but friends will keep looking

Search for 41-year-old Cobble Hill dad hits six-day mark

Rachel Notley to skip premiers conference to focus on pipeline deal

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project until it receives assurances

B.C. tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce research and development partnership.

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Still no sign of missing father in Cowichan Valley

Search group for Ben Kilmer now stands 40 SAR volunteers and another 100 friends and concerned community members

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

Most Read