Mr. Dressup, Keyboard Fantasies and touring today: Beverly Glenn-Copeland finds new audience
'I got to be a big kid. It was really as simple as that'
When most people hit their mid-70s, life can start to slow down, but not for Beverly Glenn-Copeland. The New Brunswick-based singer/composer with his five-piece band, Indigo Rising, is touring Canada featuring albums he released in the 1970s and '80s, including Keyboard Fantasies.
But another generation of young people might remember Copeland for his work on popular children's shows like Mr. Dressup and Sesame Street, prior to coming out as a trans man.
Copeland spoke with The Homestretch this week about his journey. The interview has been edited for clarity and length and you can listen to the complete interview here.
Q: Where did the renewed interest in the album Keyboard Fantasies come from?
A: A gentleman from Japan got in touch with me, out of the blue, and said, "Do you have any Keyboard Fantasies cassettes?" I said yes, I have lots. I sent him 30. Three days later he got back to me and said, "I have sold them all."
I sent him everything I had had. He sold them all.
What I didn't know is that he is known worldwide. People were watching what he put up, what he played.
Two months later, I had 10 offers from different record companies around the world.
Q: Describe the music in Keyboard Fantasies.
A: I had discovered computers about five years before that, but I was waiting for them to be able to help me with music.
Finally they were able to. Compared to today, you would say they were very simplistic sounds, but at that time, it gave me a pallet that was essentially for me an orchestra.
It allowed me to write everything I was hearing. I don't just hear melody and harmony. I hear all kinds of other lines. "This is a cello part, this is for the horns." It was the closest I could come and I was ecstatic and slept only three hours a night, spent all of my time in my studio going nuts.
Q: What made you want to get on stage and perform it?
A: The fact that people wanted me to. There is this young generation that is so excited about this music and it would be selfish of me to sit around going, "I am sorry, I don't tour."
Q: What has the response been?
A: It has been profound.
Q: What's it like to get on stage, at this point in your life?
A: I have always been comfortable with the stage, but I just didn't need it. I was more like a monk in many ways. Introverts make really good people on stage because they suddenly turn into extroverts. It's easy to be on stage.
But now it's really about communicating with this audience that really understands what I was talking about all of those years ago.
Q: What were you talking about?
A: I was talking about spiritual stuff and about the fact that we are one world and that the environment was one world with us as well.
This young generation, they are children of the entire earth, they are world citizens, thinking globally and acting locally.
That is the change we need and they are it.
Q: You have always been a trendsetter, musically and on a personal level. You told your mom you were a boy when you were three years old, and you were out on McGill University campus in the early 1960s. Are you a role model to trans people?
A: I am, but they are role models for me as well. I was just stubborn. I was just determined to be myself, no matter what.
Q: What are you performing today?
A: I have been writing music for 45 years. I will never stop. I am doing everything from stuff that was done in 1970 to literally a tune that I wrote three days ago.
Q: How has it evolved over the years?
A: I never look back around anything. What do I hear today? That's what I write.
If tomorrow I hear something different, I write that.
Q: Children's entertainment: What did you love about working on shows like Mr. Dressup, Sesame Street and Shining Time Station?
A: I got to be a big kid. It was really as simple as that.
Then they wanted my music and then they would pay me for it, so there was no downside. I actually love writing music for kids and I still do.
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With files from The Homestretch.