By Sia Papadopoulos
Last year, the internet blew up with everyone chiming in on who they thought was the “King of R&B”. Many people took to social media, debating which R&B legend should be given the prestige title, completely ignoring all the contributions women have made to the genre.
While women have had a long history adding a unique twist to R&B, the genre has recently seen the come up and domination of female powerhouses. Think about artists like Janelle Monáe, H.E.R, Kehlani, Jorja Smith, and SZA, to name a few. They have been dominating the charts, and attracting worldwide attention. It is clear that female R&B artists have already made a huge impact, and are just getting started.
It is very evident that Toronto has talent. Women especially, are adding a fresh and new sound to the R&B genre. While we could name at least twenty female R&B artists from Toronto, a l l i e, Liza, and Adria Kain are among VIBE’s favourites.
a l l i e
© a l l i e | YouTube
Growing up in downtown Toronto, a l l i e is using her diverse upbringing, with an “idiosyncratic approach to songwriting” to gain international attention. While a l l i e is not at all new to the game, with the release of her debut EP, Strange Creature, back in 2013, she is continuing to take her music to the next level. a l l i e released her first full-length album, Nightshade, in 2017, which was a massive hit. In an interview, a l l i e explained, during the production of Nightshade she was “definitely thinking a lot about the divine feminine and about these goddess archetypes.”
a l l i e describes herself as a feminist and explained how feminism influences the music she creates. “Feminism encourages me to approach making music with fearlessness, and to go wholeheartedly into areas like production and engineering, that have been male dominated in the past.”
While a l l i e explained she has many female musical inspirations that she looks up to, she still has one woman who remains her favourite. “Erykah Badu will forever be one of my biggest influences because she stays so true to herself and her vision.” a l l i e recently came out with her new EP Euphoria, where she described it to VIBE as, “silky, sensual and free”.
© Liza | YouTube
Singer/songwriterLiza uses her soulful sound, and beautiful lyrics, to help create songs with authenticity. Through singles like, Passes Me and Here to Stay, Liza is able to embrace her vulnerability to create genuine music for her listeners. “I think authentic music is created through vulnerability, so I definitely try to not hold back when writing about my experiences/emotions/thoughts,” Liza told VIBE. Liza recently released a brand new single Morning Glory.
Morning Glory is the second single of her upcoming sophomore project. “I wrote this song to capture a moment and feeling of absolute serenity and peace experienced with another,” Liza said. “The morning is such a precious time of the day, so wanting to share your morning with someone else uncovers another layer of intimacy and symbolizes something deeper to me.” She explained that the track serves as a proposition “inviting someone to be present, not only at night, but to indulge in the mornings together too.”
Liza had a lot to say when asked about her female musical inspirations. “There are so many amazing women who have inspired and paved the way for me to even be able to create the music I make. I grew up listening to a blend of R&B, Neo-Soul, and Ethiopian music,” Liza explained. “Definitely Lauryn Hill, Brandy, Whitney Houston was everything for me, Nina Simone, Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah, Erykah Badu to name a few. I also grew up listening to tons of Ethiopian artists like Aster Aweke & Gigi. I love their authenticity, they’re unapologetically themselves, as seen in their music and lyrical content.”
© Adria Kain | YouTube
With such a unique personality and style, Adria Kain adds her own twist to R&B in the music she creates with her accompanying music videos. Adria recently came out with her beautifully crafted EP, Still In Love. “Still In Love tells the story of falling in and out of love and touches on the reality of the emotions that come with that experience,” Adria said. “It was also a way for me the author and those who can relate to admit to and let go of anything in those emotions that may be suppressed during that time.” Adria explained the inspiration behind her EP was from three specific relationships that ended in similar ways. “This was my way of working through those feelings in an honest way, with the intention to grow and move past any patterns that may affect any of my future relationships.”
One of her most interesting and soulful songs, L.I.M.B. (Liquor In My Brain), was produced when Adria jokingly explains she drank just a bit too much. “Listening carefully it’s exactly how one would feel right at the beginning of something new if you’ve been through love and then heartache,” Adria said. “So it was the perfect way to start the EP and kind of give you an idea of what the entire thing would be about.”
© Adria Kain | YouTube
Similarly, Adria has also been inspired by Erykah Badu, explaining that she was the first artist, from a young age, that she wanted to be just like. “The way she approaches music is so nonchalant to me like it isn’t forced and it almost feels like she’s trolling but she does it in such a clever, talented way. She doesn’t take anything too seriously but she’s still sensitive about the music she puts out.” Adria also mentions how despite her strong inspiration from Badu, there are many female musicians that inspire her everyday.
R&B artists emerging from Toronto are definitely changing the music industry. Check out their music and support local talent.