10 emerging Canadian artists to put on your radar
There are so many incredible new musical talents out there that it can be quite difficult to keep up, let alone decide how to divide your listening time and attention. But don’t worry, I’m here to help. In no particular order, here are some amazing Canadian artists you really need to set your sights on.
Jon Vinyl – Soul, R&B
Jon Vinyl, a 23-year-old Torontonian, began his musical journey at 15 and released his first single five years later. Today, he delivers art well beyond his years. Jon is nostalgic and highly sensitive to his emotions from past relationships, similarly empowering his listeners.
Influenced by artists like Luther Vandross, Jodeci and Maxwell, all of whom opened up to the world in vulnerable ways, Jon’s sound is sophisticated, vulnerable, bluesy and soulful, involving synthesized sounds and strummed guitars. Her 2022 debut single, “Don’t Care,” is a departure from last year’s light, poppy R&B. lost in you album. The artist has evolved beyond a love subject into a deeper, darker world of ambiguity, pain and hyper-masculinity.
Home Front – Electro/synth, Pop/punk
You could say that the energy and sound of Edmonton’s Home Front has a dramatic, synthetic, electric, punk buildup that is slightly reminiscent of 1980s disco and bands like New Order and The Cure. It has that coming-of-age, classic movie soundtrack feel we all know, wrapped up in so many mixed emotions.
Discover their first album from last December, Think of the lie. A critical describe the song “Flaw in the Design” as “exhilarating, moving, nostalgic and downright brilliant. Instant pre-order!”
Luna Li – Psychedelic-Heavenly
Toronto’s Hannah Bussiere Kim, aka Luna Li, wears many hats. The singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer shot to fame at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when her home-made jam sesh videos went viral on social media. With her playing not one but four instruments – keyboard, harp, violin and guitar – these intimate shows really wowed her fans.
Known for her celestial and psychedelic mood music, Luna Li was wildly successful with her 2021 single “Cherry Pit,” which evokes an ethereal nostalgia for the light magic of summer. Last fall she opened for the Japanese Breakfast tour, and this year she released her new album, Duality.
Roo – acoustic folk
As for Alberta-born singer-songwriter Sophie Wonfor’s Project Roo, the wonderfully odd EP named Flowering, Dark and the first in a three-part series – she describes herself as an emo-bard.
Wonfor writes many of his songs unintentionally, and the common message is that our emotions and moods catch up with us at some point and things turn out the way they should, regardless of the season. His song “While” is about listening to that inner voice and calling out, going beyond your own expectations of what “should” be and focusing on the truth of what is.
Listen Roo band camp.
Brittany Kennell – Campaign
Originally from Beaconsfield, Quebec, Brittany Kennell spent 8 years working on her country music in Nashville, where she had the pleasure of writing and performing with some of the best of the best. She was the only Canadian to appear on NBC The voice and is a singer of the national anthem rotating for the Montreal Canadiens.
Its modern sound is reminiscent of Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell and Sheryl Crow. Kennel’s debut album I am not a saint came out last September.
Hunnah – R&B
Hunnah’s first project, Unloved, is an emotional and exploratory 7-track EP that delves into his own (unanswered) personal questions about desire and love. Its jazzy, romantic and silky smooth yet introspective and unique sound is the perfect backdrop to start or end your day.
Hunnah grew up practicing piano scales and singing gospel in church, and today the twenty-something Torontonian’s influences include Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder and a bit of Ethiopian jazz.
Savannah Ré – R&B/soul
Juno nominee and winner Savannah Ré has released her debut album, Opia, in late 2020, but it wasn’t until almost a year later that she was able to perform the tracks live when she headlined the All-Axis Festival in Toronto. The artist was also the first black woman in more than 15 years to sing the national anthem at the Gray Cup.
Ré has worked tirelessly to earn what she has now, including writing behind the scenes with Babyface, Normani, Daniel Caesar and WondaGurl.
Bliss Fields – Shoegaze / emo-pop
This year, Bliss Fields (formerly known as Iris) released her first full album, Slowly forever. It has an upbeat, dreamy emo-pop tinge to it, but it’s still shoegaze (for any starters, it’s indie-alt rock with ethereal vocals, feedback, guitar effects and distortion, and heavy volume).
Speaking of reinventing itself under a new name, the the group said “We are all older than we were when we started together and want a clean slate. We used the name Iris and it didn’t feel right to us, it wasn’t the same composition. It’s something fresh to our eyes, and something exciting to all who watch and listen. No more mystery, this time we’re going to be us.
Priyanka – Pop/Dance
If you’re feeling fun, danceable beats to get your blood pumping, check out Priyanka’s debut EP Taste test. Known as Toronto’s drag superstar, Priyanka was born as Mark Suknanan in Whitby, Ontario and in 2020 won the inaugural season of Canada’s Drag Race.
In addition to her great success in music, Priyanka hosts several Canadian television shows.
Bruce Xiaoyu Liu – Classical
Montreal’s Bruce Liu has been playing the piano since he was eight years old, and last October was his big breakthrough when he won first prize at the 18th Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition. In the final stage of the competition, Liu wowed the jury by performing Chopin’s Piano Concerto in E Minor with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.
Since then, the pianist has landed a competition highlights album with the world’s most prestigious classical music label, as well as concerts scheduled around the world for the coming months.
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