Soul singer Tanika Charles set to light up SLAS

Tanika Charles (Photo and design/Ryan Paterson)

MORRISBURG – “I really think that I have to sing,” laughed Tanika Charles, who will be bringing her striking style of soul to the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage this weekend. “When I sing I feel alive, motivated, healthy. This is what I do. I sing.”

Audiences attending her Saturday, January 19 concert at Upper Canada Playhouse, 7 p.m., can look forward to enjoying a powerful, joyous voice and experiencing a truly unique style.

Tanika Charles, backed by the Wonderfuls, has garnered praise and a growing fan base in Canada and Europe. Her 2017 full length album, Soul Run, was nominated for a Polaris Music Prize and a 2017 Juno R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.

She has performed at the CBC Music Fest, Pop Montreal, TD Toronto Jazz Fest, the Pan Am Games, and on television shows like The CW’s Seed, CBC Kids, Rookie Blue and CTV’s Saving Hope.

She also made her theatrical debut in 2017 in the touring production, Freedom Singer.

The National Post has written of her: “Edmonton’s Tanika Charles bares her Canadian soul – heat, heartbreak and all – across the country.”

Out-going and engaging, this artist comes by her passion for music naturally.

“Growing up, there was always music in our house. I remember singing along with recordings, maybe adding my own melodies. My dad listens to jazz literally every day. We’d be gathered and he’d say ‘listen to that horn section, listen to those lyrics.’” Tanika recalled.

“My mom sings, and my brother is a producer who plays all kinds of instruments. I just always sang. However,” she added, laughing, “singing for a living really wasn’t my original intention.”

While she was staying in Vancouver, she and a good friend “were singing Mary J. Blige songs and someone suggested I should consider singing as a career.”

However, the decision was not made until she was living in Edmonton on a farm, building a house with her fiancé. That’s when she saw a program featuring Bedouin Sound Clash.

“I loved their sound, their music. I was riveted,” Tanika recalled. “Dinner was burning and I was totally focussed on their performance. It turned out they were auditioning for singers. I sang for them, and only days later got the job. After that, there was just no turning back.”

I asked her about her connection to soul music.

“I love all kinds of music,” Tanika said.

“But R&B seems to stem from my childhood. I prefer upbeat tempos – I’ve been called a ‘beat junkie’,” she laughed, “but I love the bass, the drums. And I also think that if you put tough situations to music, in the end you’ll smile. I’ve lived a lot of life, and not all of it happily, but I think if people see me out there on stage, if they see that I’m still singing, they’ll believe everything will be alright. I can express my experiences through music.”

Her music (with the exception of one cover by The Tragically Hip) is original.

“My songs, well, frankly they’re always about love, and relationships – courting and dating, those cloud nine feelings inevitably followed by the crash,” she explained.

“I hope through my music that I can empower people. We’ve all experienced the highs and lows of life, and I want to bring those out in my music. I love telling my stories. I hear and feel music.”

She creates powerful bonds on stage with her audiences.

“I ‘feel’ an audience,” Tanika said. “I feel their focus and their energy. I want to keep my concert high and exciting. I want to invite people into who I am.

And when I step on that stage,” she added (making us both laugh), “well, it could be a cold room, but I intend to heat it up.”

She and her backup performers, the Wonderfuls, themselves accomplished musicians, have been on tour for some time, including concerts in Europe. They are utterly comfortable on stage.

“We all get along, we love each other, and we want to experience the world together with our music,” Tanika said.

She is set to release a new album, created over the last year or so, in the very near future.

In the meantime, Tanika Charles laughs that she hopes to invite her Morrisburg audience “into my crazy world, to share a gift of music with them.”

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