The many voices of Veronic DiCaire
It’s one thing to do an impression of Shania Twain. Try doing it when you spot Shania Twain in the audience.
Veronic DiCaire laughs recalling that night in Las Vegas, performing
Man! I Feel Like a Woman as part of her impressionist show Voices. On the right side of the stage, she was stunned to see Twain in the front row. Much to her lighting guy’s dismay, she soon bolted for the left side of the stage.
“He was like, ‘What is she doing?’ I was too shy. But after the show she came back stage and we talked about how I was working the voices and everything. She was very curious. She took it very well.”
Hearing feedback from the people she’s impersonating is one of the perks for DiCaire, who plays five shows at Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort starting Wednesday. Most times, it’s trial and error paying tribute to her idols.
Like Tina Turner. Think she’s easy to do? So did DiCaire, at first.
“I don’t have that raunchiness in my voice, so when I tried to work on her I was so scared to ruin my voice,” says the French-Canadian singer. “It was so hard to pick up the details.”
Growing more frustrated, she watched old footage and focussed more on Turner’s physicality on stage. That’s when she figured it out.
“She was putting her shoulders high and bending her knees, and it helped me a lot to capture her voice,” she says.
Another toughie proved to be Barbra Streisand. DiCaire found her first attempts bordering on caricature, which is not what a tribute should be.
“I was trying to pick up her voice, and I was like, ‘No, no, no … this is not good.’ Because it’s coming too much from the nose. I don’t want to make fun of the singers I imitate.
“Most of the show I’m doing is an homage to the singers I admire. I was going, ‘There’s no way I’m doing Barbra Streisand like that.’”
Working with her vocal coach, she eventually found the little details that set Streisand apart.
Now, Babs is a regular part of the repertoire, joining Whitney Houston, Adele, Madonna, Gloria Estefan, Cher and her biggest influence — Celine Dion.
Not just influence, but mentor. In 2008, Dion asked her to be the opening act for her Taking Chances tour. Dion and her late husband/ manager Rene Angelil would prove pivotal to her career, helping bring DiCaire’s show Voices to the Jubilee Theatre at Bally’s Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in 2013.
Angelil died in early 2016, making the Dion portion of DiCaire’s show much more emotional these days.
“He had such an important role to play in my career,” she says. “I’m not only paying homage to my idol and producer, in a way, but I always have this thought in the back of my head. I always think of him.
“When I imitate Celine and sing one of her songs, he’s there.”
While she has two folk rock albums of her own, DiCaire’s imitations usually lead to sold out tours. She just wrapped two months in Europe, and heads to Paris for six shows after the Niagara Falls run.
The show continues to evolve, with classic vocalists like Billie Holliday and Edith Piaf to go with Lady GaGa and Britney Spears.
“The people coming to see my shows are from different backgrounds musically. The generations are so wide, I have to make sure I touch everybody.”
Which makes modern acts a dilemma, adds DiCaire. Not that she can’t properly imitate them, but the musical landscape is so different that even the top singers may not be familiar to much of the audience.
“I have to make sure that if I integrate a new singer into my repertoire, I have to make sure the song I pick, and the singer I choose, is known to everybody. It’s always hard to add new singers, because lately I find a song is so quickly thrown away by another song.
“That’s why I aim for classics.”
Veronic DiCaire conjures some of music's great female singers for five shows at Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort.