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Tanika Charles

Tanika Charles Reemerges From Her Creative Cocoon 

The Canadian soul powerhouse shares five albums she can’t live without

by Stephan Boissonneault 

Photo by Taha Muharuma

The moth — or the night butterfly — is a mystical symbol for transformation. It was also the inspiration behind R&B/soul songwriter Tanika Charles’ latest album, Papillon de Nuit: The Night Butterfly.

“I always thought it was a strange insect,” the Juno nominated artist tells RANGE. “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.”

Coming out of her cocoon after a difficult two years, Charles is exploring new sounds and feelings on her latest outing. Written, composed, and recorded in and out of lockdowns, Papillon features Toronto rapper DijahSB and multi-disciplinary artist, Khari McClelland to create a robust collection of songs. While her taste and influence ranges from Turkish psych-rock to old school soul, the album comes alive with laid back soul on “Hold Me (Like A Grudge),” down-right funk in the vein of Khurangbin on “Rent Free,” and up-tempo R&B infused hip-hop on album highlight “Different Mornings.”

With Papillon de Nuit: The Night Butterfly now fluttering through our airwaves, we asked Charles to share her top five albums that she’s got in rotation at the moment. 

Yebba – Dawn (Pop/R&B)

Yebba ALL DAY! The way she expresses all of her feelings, she legit pours her soul into every song. She makes me feel something. I wanted people to feel, to truly react to my songs with this new album or at least empathize with the lyrics.

Kojey Radical – Reason To Smile (R&B, Grime, Hip-hop)

I heard Kojey Radical for the first time on COLORS. He’s got mad style. I love his voice and cadence.

Lydia Persaud – Let me Show You (Folk/Soul)

Lydia is from Toronto. Would see her name everywhere singing background on different projects from local artists. When I finally sat down and listened to this album from 2019, I cried. For real. You just have to listen to her voice. The harmonies, lyrics…she has a new album coming out this month too.

Yola – Orphan Offering (Folk/Country)

I had a country moment and it’s Yola’s fault. She also led me down a path of searching and listening to Black female country singers..and possibly taking a different approach to singing/songwriting.

Mac Ayres – Something To Feel (R&B/Jazz)

All of Mac’s albums are dope, but anytime I can sing songs in the shower at the top of my lungs and harmonize? Pfft, it stays on repeat.