Two-time Juno Award-nominated and Polaris Prize listed, Toronto-born and-based Trinidadian-Canadian singer/songwriter Tanika Charles spent a formative part of her life in Edmonton, when energy sector opportunities brought the family there. But whether in Toronto or Edmonton, music was a constant presence in the Charles household: Her father would return from two weeks on site with the latest jazz records for Tanika and her brothers to jam out to.
Several years later, Tanika’s eldest brother would be the first to coach her on how to sing and how to record a song. As a young adult., Charles relocated to Vancouver, where she picked up gigs as a backing vocalist and got a taste of tour life. When she returned to her birthplace, the Trinidadian-Canadian artist’s long-held dreams of becoming a professional artist began to come to fruition: She assembled her first backing band, and with that band recorded her debut EP What? What! What?! And with the release of her debut EP, she became a local scene fixture.
In 2016, Charles independently released her full-length debut Soul Run within her native Canada. The album became a national sensation, with the album receiving a Polaris Music Prize nomination and a Juno Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Recording of the Year. The following year, Italian purveyors of funk and soul Record Kicks released Soul Run internationally to critical applause from the likes of Exclaim!, Music Republic Magazine and others. Album singles like “Endless Chain,” “Love Fool,” and album title track “Soul Run” received regular radio rotation on stations across Canada, the US, the UK and France.
Charles’ sophomore album, 2019’s The Gumption was released through Record Kicks. The 12-song album picked up where Soul Run left off, further establishing the Canadian artist’s sound and approach in which classic soul is mixed with modern production. Thematically, the album saw Charles tackling moments of vindication, uncertain love, forbidden fruit and the state of the world. “It’s a little more mature,” Tanika said at the time. ““It’s not feeling guilty about being up front, not being afraid to address situations that aren’t comfortable for me. I’m comfortable in my skin now in a way I never was before.” The Gumption was long-listed for the 2019 Polaris Music Prize and nominated for the 2020 Juno Awards R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.
Along with her latest backing band, The Wonderfuls, Charles has toured across Canada and eight other counties to support Soul Run and The Gumption. Those tours have prominently featured stops across the global, national and local festival circuits, including Rennes Trans Musicales, NXNE, Lärz Fusion, Pop Montreal, Canarias Jazz Festival, CBC Music Festival, TD Toronto Jazz Fest, Birmingham’s Mostly Funk, Soul and Jazz Festival, the Pan Am Games and a list of others. Her music has appeared on HBO’s Less Than Kind, ABC’s Rookie Blue, The CW’s Seed, CTV’s Saving Hope, CBC’s Kim Convenience and Workin’ Moms and a nationally broadcast KFC ad campaign. She also has appeared as a reoccurring guest on CBC Kids and as a lounge singer on Global TV’s Bomb Girls. Between a busy schedule as a touring musician, Charles appeared in the touring production of Freedom Singer in 2017. She returned to that role in February 2019’s Now We Recognize.
Charles’ third album Papillon de Nuit: The Night Butterfly is slated for an April 8, 2022 release through Record Kicks. The album, which features guest spots from Toronto-based emcee DijahSB and multi-disciplinary artist Khari McClelland was written and recorded during and after pandemic related lockdowns and restrictions. Much like its immediate predecessor, the forthcoming album is reportedly anchored in growth and maturity.
The album’s title is derived from an unlikely source, a creature that soars after the sun has set, but often goes unnoticed until light is shone on it. Referred to as “papillon de nuit” by some, the animal is more commonly known as a moth, possibly revealing a linguistic bias. “I always thought it was a strange insect,” the acclaimed Canadian artist says in press notes. “Once while in Paris, a friend swatted at one and I asked: ‘Was that a moth?’. I was told: ‘No, that’s a papillon de nuit.’ I thought that was the most beautiful description for this otherwise overlooked creature. When I later learned of the symbolism associated with it, I felt that really spoke to both my own situation and also what we’ve all been going through.”
Papillon de Nuit: The Night Butterfly‘s first single is the funky and strutting old-school inspired soul bop “Rent Free.” The song is a fiery tell off to energy sucking vampires, deadbeats, naysayers, time wasters and other shitty people centered around Charles’ effortless, Motown era-like delivery. We’ve all had those sorts in our lives, and this song is the sort of song that tells you that it’s okay to push those toxic people out of your life.