Carole Pope

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Carole Pope
Carole Pope at Riverfest Elora 2018.jpg
Carole Pope performing in 2018
Background information
Birth nameCarole Ann Pope
BornManchester, England, United Kingdom
OriginScarborough, Ontario, Canada
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Associated actsRough Trade, Dalbello, Payolas, Paul Hyde

Carole Pope is a British-born Canadian rock singer-songwriter, whose provocative blend of hard-edged new wave rock with explicit homoerotic and BDSM-themed lyrics made her one of the first openly lesbian entertainers to achieve mainstream fame. She is the sister of Emmy Award-winning television producer and screenwriter Elaine Pope.

Early life[edit]

Pope was born outside of Manchester, England, the daughter of Jack Pope, a salesman and circus stilt walker, and Celia, a music hall performer. Aged five, she immigrated with her parents to Montreal[1] and was raised in Scarborough, Toronto.[2] She attended Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute.[3]


1960s – 1980s[edit]

Pope met her longtime musical partner Kevan Staples at a band audition in Scarborough. In 1968, they began performing together as a duo in Yorkville, which was Toronto's live music and arts district at the time.[4] In 1970, they adopted the name O, changing it to The Bullwhip Brothers the following year.

In 1975, Pope and Staples recruited several backup musicians and formed the band Rough Trade. Pope often performed in black leather pants and bondage attire.[5] The band's first album, Rough Trade Live, was produced by Jack Richardson.[5]

In 1980, Pope sang backup vocals on Murray McLauchlan's album Into a Mystery.[6]

She won the Juno Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist in 1981, and subsequently won the Juno Award for Best Female Vocalist in 1982 and 1983.[7] She and Staples co-wrote the 1983 single "Transformation," recorded by Nona Hendryx. Pope also appeared as a guest vocalist on the Payola$ single "Never Said I Loved You," which was a top 10 hit in 1983. She teamed up in 2000 with the Payola$ founder Paul Hyde to sing the duet "My Brilliant Career" on his album Living Off the Radar. She sang the role of Primavera Nicholson in the COC production of R. Murray Schafer's Patria I in November 1987.[8]

During the 1980s, Rough Trade won a Genie Award,[7] and earned four gold and two platinum records. Although the band did not record or perform extensively after its final Deep Six in '86 tour, they did not officially break up until 1988.

1990s to present[edit]

Pope's solo career has been lower-profile than her time with the band. Pope issued a debut solo single in 1988 (Nothing but a Heartache/I'm Not Blind), but did not issue a follow-up release for several years afterward. In 1991, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue opportunities in soundtrack work and acting.

Pope issued an EP in 1995. In 1997, she provided the voice for the schoolteacher in the animated version of Pippi Longstocking. In 1999, playwright Bryden MacDonald staged Shaking the Foundations, a musical revue based on Pope's music with Rough Trade, at Toronto's Buddies in Bad Times theatre.[9]

In 2000, Random House published Anti-Diva, Pope's autobiography.[10][2] The book included Pope's first public acknowledgement that she had been in a relationship with British singer Dusty Springfield in the early 1980s.[11] That year she and Staples contributed a track to the Dusty Springfield tribute album Homage to an Icon.[12] The same book also revealed fleeting 1970s dalliances with comic actress Andrea Martin and music producer Bob Ezrin.

Soon afterward, Pope re-recorded the Rough Trade single "High School Confidential" for the Queer as Folk (Season 1) soundtrack. She also appeared in the Toronto production of The Vagina Monologues in 2001, then moved to New York City to continue writing and recording.[1] In 2005, 21 years after her last EP, Radiate, Pope returned to Los Angeles and released Transcend, her debut full-length solo album.[13]

In 2011, Pope released Landfall, her second full-length album, featuring a duet with Rufus Wainwright.[13] That year she also was a guest vocalist on the album The Hills Are Alive by the Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata.[14]

Pope is an ambassador for the Harvey Milk School in New York City and the board director for the Songwriters Association of Canada. In 2015, Pope signed with Squirtgun Records (distributed by eOne Entertainment) to re-release the Music for Lesbians EP on 23 June 2015.[citation needed]

On 22 September 2017, Pope released the single, This Is Not A Test.[15] An accompanying music video, directed by Jasun Mark, was released on 8 May 2018.[16]

Pope collaborated with keyboardist Kevin Hearn to release the single, Resist It, on 22 October 2018.[17] It was later accompanied by a music video directed by Phillip Harder.[18] A third single, I'm There, produced in collaboration with Spoons' keyboardist Rob Preuss, was released the following year.

Personal life[edit]

Pope currently resides in Los Angeles.[19]


Pope underwent spinal stenosis surgery in the summer of 2018 after she experienced mobility issues whilst touring. A fundraiser was created via GoFundMe to cover her living expenses.[20]

Solo discography[edit]




  • Nothing But A Heartache/I'm Not Blind (1988)
  • Johnny Marr (2007)
  • Shining Path/Tell Me (2010)
  • Viral 01/Viral 02 (2011)
  • Francis Bacon (2013)
  • Lesbians in the Forest (feat. Peaches) (2013)
  • Vagina Wolf (2014)
  • This Is Not a Test (2017)
  • Resist It (with Kevin Hearn) (2018)
  • I'm There (with Rob Preuss) (2019)


  1. ^ a b "A Brief History of Rough Trade With Carole Pope and Kevan Staples". Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Carole Pope unpeeled". The Globe and Mail, Elizabeth Renzetti. 25 November 2000
  3. ^ Dave Bingham (22 October 2015). Noise from the North End: The Amazing Story of The Ugly Ducklings. FriesenPress. pp. 99–. ISBN 978-1-4602-6651-9.
  4. ^ Bernie Finkelstein (2012). True North: A Life Inside the Music Business. McClelland & Stewart. pp. 224–. ISBN 978-0-7710-4793-0.
  5. ^ a b Bob Mersereau (1 March 2015). The History of Canadian Rock 'n' Roll. Backbeat Books. pp. 145–. ISBN 978-1-4950-2890-8.
  6. ^ Marco Adria (1990). Music of Our Times: Eight Canadian Singer-Songwriters. James Lorimer & Company. pp. 112–. ISBN 978-1-55028-315-0.
  7. ^ a b "Carole Pope: Not Going Gently". GO Magazine, 24 April 2012. by Andrew Vail
  8. ^ Littler, William (23 November 1987). "Schafer on to something in trying to reform opera". Toronto Star. Toronto. pp. D6.Green, Robert Everett (23 November 1987). "Undisciplined script detracts from Patria's superb music". Globe and Mail. Toronto. pp. C9.
  9. ^ Gabrielle H. Cody and Evert Sprinchorn, The Columbia encyclopedia of modern drama: M-Z, Volume 2 (p. 843). Columbia University Press, 2007; ISBN 9780231144247.
  10. ^ Julie Rak (2 August 2009). Auto/biography in Canada: Critical Directions. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press. pp. 173–. ISBN 978-1-55458-771-1.
  11. ^ Pope, Carole (2000). Anti diva : an autobiography. Toronto: Random House Canada. ISBN 0-679-31048-7.
  12. ^ The Advocate. Here Publishing. 9 May 2000. pp. 62–. ISSN 0001-8996.
  14. ^ "Album review: Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata, 'The Hills Are Alive'". Metro West Daily News, 22 March 2011
  15. ^ pope, carole (22 September 2017). "This is Not A Test out now @claravenice …". @carolepope. Retrieved 12 January 2019. External link in |title= (help)
  16. ^ Carole Pope, This Is Not A Test - Official Video by Carole Pope, retrieved 12 January 2019
  17. ^ Pope, Kevin Hearn & Carole. "Carole Pope + Kevin Hearn Release Politically Charged Single "Resist It"". Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  18. ^ KevinHearnMusic, Resist It (Official Video) - Kevin Hearn & Carole Pope, retrieved 12 January 2019
  19. ^ "What Carole Pope loves (and doesn't love) about living in Los Angeles". Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  20. ^ Média, Bell. "Carole Pope Seeking Donations From Fans". Retrieved 10 January 2019.

External links[edit]