Trevor W. Payne has called Montreal home since his family moved to the city from Barbados when he was 10. He enjoyed modest success in the 1960s as the leader of the pop group ‘Trevor Payne and the Triangle’ (later: Kanda Kanda] – a band which performed with Van Morrison, Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, April Wine, Jethro Tull, Joe Cocker, Johnny Winter, and others. Feeling restricted by the simplicity of pop music and by his own lack of training, Payne gave up the band to study at McGill’s Faculty of Music in 1971. He plays piano, organ, saxophone, violoncello and percussion instruments.
In 1974 the Montreal Black Community Youth Choir (MBCYC) was founded by Trevor W. Payne and Daisy Peterson Sweeney (Oscar Peterson’ sister) at the Union United Church along with its then minister, Frank B. Gabourel. During the next eight years, the MBCYC performed numerous concerts in various churches and auditoriums in Canada, including two command performances at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver; toured the USA, and recorded two albums.
In 1982, the MBCYC joined forces with the Union United Church Senior Choir in a joint concert, directed by Prof. Payne, to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the oldest Black church in Montreal. The success of this event, which included Oliver Jones, Ranee Lee and Charlie Biddle, launched the Payne-led Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir to its current status as one of North America’s most dynamic and popular choirs.
The choir’s first record, “Highway to Heaven,” garnered the group the Outstanding Recording Artist Award from the Association of Gospel Music Ministries. The choir was invited to contribute a track to “Voices,” an award-winning compilation of the world’s best choral music.
The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir earned a Juno Award in 1995 for its CD, “Jubilation V: Joy to the World.” The choir has performed for Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II. Apart from being the choir’s director, Payne is also a composer who has produced works for Les Ballets Jazz du Québec and was Director of Music at John Abbott College in Montreal from 1974 to 2006.
In February 1996, Prof. Payne was named one of the Five Most Outstanding Black Graduates in the 175-year history of McGill University of Montreal by the Graduate Society and in April one of the 10 Best Orchestra/Choral Conductors in the history of the City of Montreal (the Gazette).
Prof. Payne received the Thomas A. Dorsey Award for Pioneering Gospel Music in Canada. This award was presented by Vision Awards Inc. in Association with the Ottawa [Canada] Blues Festival in July 2000.
In May 2009, Prof. Payne’s biography was inscribed into the Canadian Who’s Who 2010 (Volume XLV) celebrating its 100th anniversary, this highly regarded reference includes comprehensive biographical information on leading and influential Canadians.
In December 2009, he was inducted into the Hour Magazine Hall of Fame.
In January 2010, he received the Gala Soba Image Award for his contribution and devotion, for almost 30 years, to one of the most prestigious gospel choirs in North America: the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir.
Dr. Payne is the proud recipient of Her Majesty’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees as well as the Order of Canada Medals. In January 2010 he received the Gala Soba Image Award for his contribution and devotion to one of the most prestigious gospel choirs in North America: the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. In February 2014 he and his choir received world acclaim for their performances in George Gershwin’s masterpiece ‘Porgy and Bess’ produced by l’Opéra de Montréal garnering five consecutive sold-out audiences at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier de la Place des Arts
Dr. Payne retired from directing the choir in December 2018.