A native of the Outaouais Region, Geneviève-Renée Bisson is a multi-disciplinary vocal artist and musician, with a diverse background in Classical voice, gospel, Broadway, R&B and jazz.
Now a long-time resident of Niagara, Renée has worked as a soloist, music teacher, choir director and organist. She’s performed at well-known festivals and venues (Fallsview Casino, Niagara Jazz Festival), and held a residency at the Hilton Fallsview Hotel for over seven years (The Rio Trio ’10-‘15, Latin Twist ’15-‘17) singing 160+ shows a year. The project was nominated by the Niagara Music Awards for Best Jazz Band in 2010, and released a self-titled album in 2014, produced by Rubén Arancibia. That album garnered two 2014 Niagara Music Awards for both Instrumental and Producer of the Year categories.
Renée applies a unique interpretation to a vast musical catalog that includes jazz, reggae, pop, and blues. She sings in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian) and loves the opportunity to play Latin minor percussion (maracas, guiro, clave, cabasa). Renée joined the Jimmy Stahl Big Band in 2016 for their appearance at the Brantford International Jazz Festival, and has since enjoyed returning to her jazz roots and fronting a 17-piece orchestra at venues across Niagara, Southern Ontario and the GTA. You can also catch her singing locally in Niagara with the duo “R&R” with Rubén Arancibia.
Raised as a child performer, Renee grew up immersed in music. Her earliest recording is of “Stormy Weather” at four years old. In the late 1970s her mother sang in a band with her brother performing original music on the Edmonton music scene, while her father was a singer and self-taught acoustic guitarist working as a sound technician for CBC-Radio Canada. After her parents met in Edmonton, they married and eventually settled just across the river from Ottawa in Hull (Gatineau), Quebec. Feeling a little disconnected from her family and friends out west, Renee’s mother decided the family would join the church choir at St. Stephens Presbyterian. It was here that Renee learned to love choral, gospel and classical music and also developed an obsession for Broadway musicals and had memorized Andrew Lloyd Webbers “Cats” in its entirety by the age of eight. She would spend her childhood volunteering with her family and choir planning fundraising concerts in support of local non-profit community organizations.
Renee’s little sister Erinne-Colleen was her musical side-kick. They could always be found singing together in their bedrooms, in church performing duets, and holding impromptu concerts for their parents’ dinner guests. Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald and George Michael were some of their favourite artists. Throughout these formative years, Renee studied classical ballet, and she completed her grade eight in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music at age 16.
As a Young Entrepreneur
When Renee began college at 17, she officially entered the local Ottawa-Hull live music scene both as a singer and as a promoter. She began writing and recording original R&B music with different bands as a guest vocalist and leveraged these connections to help her hold concerts, competitions and album launches. She moonlighted as an artist/promoter, worked at numerous Ottawa music festivals as a vendor, and undertook studies in a Liberal Arts program focused on literature, media, culture, religion, and art history. After three years of part-time studies Renee made the decision to leave college without completing the program, opting to take the big risk of moving to Niagara in pursuit of recording opportunities in Toronto with her friend, music producer George Sully. She had met George while acting on the set for one of his music videos (Strive, to the end, song by Exampl, video produced by Roe Pamphile.)
Niagara was originally a temporary stop for Renee, who had planned to eventually move to Toronto to have closer access to the music-scene. However, plans changed when she met her husband and they decided to settle in the Niagara Region instead. George Sully eventually left the music industry to launch the successful designer shoe line Sully Wong, and their recordings would never be publicly released.
Coming To Niagara
After moving to Niagara in 2000, Renee worked as a professional soloist, a model and a make-up artist. She studied the art of traditional belly dance and also taught voice and piano privately. She transferred and completed her diploma at Niagara College in 2005, with a focus on French and Spanish. In 2009, Renee met musicians Linda Tamburri and horn player Alfredo Acosta, and they formed as a Latin-pop project called The Rio Trio.
The Trio began playing across Niagara at well-known venues and within six months the group was offered a residency at the Hilton Fallsview Hotel and Resort, performing year round in the brand-new BRASA Brazilian Steakhouse and Wine Bar. The project (The Rio Trio ’10-‘15, Latin Twist ’15-‘17) then developed a unique repertoire that featured jazz, reggae, pop, blues, and world music from 11 countries, sung in five languages. Renee added Portuguese and Italian to her current languages (English, French, Spanish), and invested in private tutoring in order to learn Latin dance (Salsa, Samba, Merengue, Cha Cha) and Latin minor percussion (maracas, guiro, clave, cabasa).