Tanika Charles’ Soul Run takes her to Edmonton this weekend to hitch the Junos

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“I have a feeling we’ve all gone through so much, why not talk about it when you’re comfortable enough?” – Tanika Charles

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Roger Levesque Tanika Charles Tanika Charles Photo by Zahra Siddiqui

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Ten years ago, Tanika Charles sat on a farm about an hour east of Edmonton, looking for the courage to end “an emotionally challenging relationship.” According to her own account, she tried to steal her ex-fiancé’s truck “to escape”, but eventually had to call her brother for a lift because she couldn’t drive a standard gearbox.

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“It’s all really funny when you think about it,” she admits, “but when I was there it was stressful.”

After recovering with his family in Edmonton, Charles drove on and drove across Canada to settle in Toronto, where she hoped to begin a career in a branch of show business, perhaps comedy.

A decade later, the singer is hailed for Soul Run, an up-tempo pop-soul number about the day she left the farm. Soul Run is also the title of Charles’ notable first full-length album. It was released last spring and is nominated for R&B / Soul Recording of the Year at the Juno Awards, the only allusion to a female performer in that category.

“There was a lot to talk about, a lot to post, but I feel like we’ve all been through so much, why not talk about it if you’re comfortable enough?” Said Charles. “Everything that has happened since then is just beautiful. I’m starting to reap the benefits of a lot of hard work, but it feels like a drop in a pond, like it all happened so quickly. “

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Homecoming

This week, Charles is excited to hear the songs from Soul Run and their 2010 debut EP What? What? What? with her group The Wonderfuls for the first time in her hometown Thursday through Saturday at The Citadel’s Club Cabaret. The band has consisted of guitarist Mike Celia, bassist Marlon James, drummer Tony Nesbitt and Casey MQ on keyboards since 2010.

Charles had virtually no musical experience before leaving Alberta in 2007 other than playing the trombone in high school band class (she picks it up again for fun). She grew up mostly with her father’s jazz record collection and singers like Stevie Wonder, Patti Labelle and Bjork, and sang harmonies to those melodies but never thought it would lead to it. Then, after moving east, she auditioned for work as a background singer, worked with Bedouin Soundclash for two years and on subsequent tours with Zaki Ibrahim, Macy Gray, Emmanuel Jal and others.

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“It was comfortable. You don’t have to worry about all the details and get the band together to rehearse, all of the work. It taught me to be on time. But now, when I don’t perform with my band, I get nervous and anxious. “

More recently, Charles has toured the stage with the musical theater production Freedom Singer, and while she enjoyed the opportunity, she’s clearly determined to promote her own sounds and organize some extended tours.

Soul Run should fix that. Created with a handful of producers and co-writers, their band, and their own overdub backing vocals, it’s a surprisingly cohesive blend of contemporary soul with some great hooks and lively retro touches that echo Motown and classic 1960s soul.

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Charles credits Soul Run with “some pretty great producers and good friends” including Head Supervisor Slakah The Beatchild and songwriters Ian James Jones and Robert Bolton, but she insists that the songs come from real life experience. While some numbers like Soul Run, the seductive Heavy and the final Darkness and the Dawn record difficult times, the overall tone of the album grabs you with its uplifting atmosphere.

Whether or not she picks up a Juno on April 2nd, your guess is that Tanika Charles is a name you’ll hear about more often.

Charles and The Wonderfuls play The Citadel’s Club Cabaret Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Tickets range from $ 34 to $ 46 and are available at 780-425-1820 or online at citadeltheatre.com.

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Blues guitar times two

Not much happens anymore, but there was a time when blues and jazz musicians competed against each other on stage in friendly competitions. These sneaky blues guitar aces, Edmonton’s Marshall Lawrence and Calgary’s John Rutherford, are back for a rematch of their Battle of the Blues on Friday at 8:30 p.m. at the Blue Chair Cafe (call 780-989-2861 or book online at bluechair. ca).

Over at Blues on Whyte it’s a different kind of blues guitar when Guitarface goes on stage Monday and Tuesday evenings around 9 p.m. This is the new collaboration between Gordie Matthews and Jim Guiboche, which takes on a mix of originals and cover material and an even wider range of roots in styles from blues to surf rock, with bassist Chris Brzezicki and drummer Emmet Van Etten driving the grooves.

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The Edmonton Blues Society welcomes Ottawa’s multiple Maple Blues awardees Murray Kinsley and Wicked Grin for their latest event on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the German Club (8310 Roper Rd.). Tickets are $ 10 for EBS members, $ 15 for Blackbyrd Myoozik or Myhre’s Music guests, or by reservation at edmontonbluessociety.net.

RIP James Cotton

Blues fans mourn the final exit of harmonica star and singer James Cotton, who died of pneumonia on March 16 at the age of 81.

Cotton has had his share of memorable visits here over the decades, but even if he’s never seen live, his music lives on through numerous classic recordings for Chess Records and other labels. As one of the last remaining blues giants, he was shining evidence of the enduring connection between the Mississippi Delta and Chicago’s post-war blues traditions.

The then 75-year-old Cotton said to this writer in 2012 before his performance at the Edmonton Blues Festival: “What else should I do? I’m not ready to go fishing yet. “

Good fishing, Mr. C.

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