Celebrating Black Music Month: Canadian R&B artists you need to hear

Written by Justin Chandler

June is Black Music Month, and we want to share what R&B, the original genre of pop music sound like in Canada. Enjoy global Diaspora music all this month with CME.

Tika has been known over the past few years for all the venues and spaces that she has opened up for creative artists with her The Known Unknown showcases but with the release of her recent EP  Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid, the singer deservedly puts herself front and centre to display her talent. While songs like "The Betrayer" are raw in their vulnerability, a steely resilience is also detected on tracks like "Tenfold," readying us for the emotional range she could deliver on her upcoming album Anywhere But Here. – Del F. Cowie

Slated to release her debut album in the near future, Allie is set to definitively stake her claim as a leader in Toronto's futuristic R&B movement. Through songs with Canadian producers Elaquent and 2nd Son, Allie has proven to be an adaptable and versatile collaborator with an intuitive curiousity which leads her down adventorous and progressive musical routes on songs like "Cross Your Mind"  and "Private Island." With "Vertigo," her brand new track with Last Gang beat merchant Harrison, now making the rounds, it's a good idea to keep tabs on what Allie is up to. – Del F. Cowie

Denzel Spencer, better known by his stage name Roy Woods, is the latest OVO signee from Brampton, Ont. As a musician, he's a triple threat, honing talent as a singer, rapper and songwriter. His debut EP, Exis, released in the summer of last year, is a mix of moody R&B and rap — similar to the same rapping formula Drake took to new heights many years ago. But it's his vocal range that sets him apart from the crowd. His latest single off his debut album, Waking at Dawn, "Gwan Big Up Yourself," is a touch of R&B, mixed with Caribbean vibes. It's a great start to see what else the artist has in store. – Kiah Welsh

Tanika Charles is having a very good year. After five years of performing and building steady buzz, 2016 saw the release of Soul Run, the Edmonton-born, Toronto-based singer's first full length LP. The release was featured in a CBC Music First Play Live session, and was also long listed for the Polaris Music Prize. Charles is a charming, confident and entertaining performer who has a vintage style, but a very modern sound. One of the standout tracks from her record is the title track, that describes her experience of literally fleeing a bad relationship by stealing her soon to be ex's car, and driving off from the farm where they were living. – Jeanette Cabral 

There's an undeniable authenticity to Shi Wisdom's music which has ranged from the head-over-heels romanticism of 2011's "Lovespeak" to the moody atmospherics of her 2014 Stranger Things Have Happened EP. "Young Gunner," a track from that EP release perhaps distills the power of Wisdom's artistry, potently mixing her jazz and blues-infused voice with a thought-provoking dose of social conscience. – Del F. Cowie

Shay Lia's arresting vocal contribution to Kaytranada's "Leave Me Alone" was the first track from the Montreal producer's now critically acclaimed and Polaris Music Prize-shortlisted 99.9% to see the light of day. Also hailing from Montreal, Shay Lia has remained busy, collaborating with a number of producers, most recently releasing "All Alone," her collaboration with BadBadNotGood on Drake producer STWO's recent EP D.T.S.N.T. – Del F. Cowie 

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