Tanika Charles aka Mz.Chawls and The Wonderfuls
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Tanika Charles aka Mz.Chawls and The Wonderfuls

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band R&B Soul


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By Del F. Cowie

With the throwback spirit of her charming single “Silly Happy Wild” garnering her new fans, Toronto R&B singer Tanika Charles is paving her own unique path with a retro meets hip-hop style. Known previously for her work as a backup singer for Zaki Ibrahim, Charles’ “What?What!What?” EP announces the arrival of a talented singer and performer. She recently opened for Nigerian singer/songwriter Nneka and Sway caught up with Charles at Toronto’s El Mocambo just after her sound check.

Sway: The last time I remember seeing you, you were riding your bike down Queen Street. When I listened to your EP, I realized this was exactly what you were doing in the song “Parkdale”. Are all your songs based on personal experience?
Tanika Charles: Absolutely. I was living in Edmonton, on a farm. I was going to get married. I’m gonna be really real here, it wasn’t for me. It was a very strange time in my life. I then moved from Edmonton to Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, and so the story goes. Each song is a point in my life since I moved here and right before I moved here.

“Silly Happy Wild” reached No. 1 on the New Flow 93.5 FM’s Megacity Countdown and stayed there for four weeks. Is it surprising to you that the song has caught on so quickly?
Yeah, actually it was surprising. I was happy while it was at No. 3. I can’t actually believe it moved that fast. When it hit No. 1, I actually started crying. The work that producer Rich Kidd and I put into that song, with the live elements and all that good stuff, it took a long time and it was pretty stressful. I’m really pleased with where it is right now.

On the EP, you have created this “Ms. Chawlz” character. What’s the difference between Ms. Chawlz and Tanika Charles?
Ideally, Ms. Chawlz is a little bit older than Tanika. She is an emotional, sensitive and passionate woman, so she’s gone through heartache. She loves hard and a lot of the time when her heart is broken, she tries to feel sexy again. She tries to feel like she’s worth something even though she’s breaking down. She loves to drink a little bit. How does she overlap with Tanika Charles? I’m a passionate person, for sure, but I’m happy. I love people. Ms. Chawlz loves people too — men more.

You draw on a lot of eras, musically and also in your presentation. There’s kind of a retro feel to what you’re doing. Why is that?
Why not? The Motown sound, I’ve always loved. When [producer] Gigz gave me the beat to my song “Think of You”, I could hear that it was old school, but there’s a hip-hop element to it. I am definitely a beat junkie, 100 per cent. So, I thought, ‘OK, why don’t we just try doing Motown-feeling songs and add hip-hop so different ages can listen to it?’ There’s a lot of adults — I’m talking like 40, 50, 60-year-olds — that have approached me and were like, ‘I really love your music.’ Then there’s also [young kids] and there’s that community of heads in their late 20s and early 30s who like it too.

- Sway Magazine,2010

After being graced by the honey-coated pipes and presence of Toronto’s Tanika Charles, performing alongside DJ L’Oquenz, her sophisticated and sultry R&B showcased the magnetic music on her just-released “What? What! What?!” EP, and it was a perfect set up for what was about to happen next. El Mocambo was sold out, and the hot August heat was reverberating off the walls, cooking everyone inside that was eagerly anticipating the humble harmony maker that was personally requested to share stages by artists no less than Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz, Damian Marley and Nas. If they are fans of yours, chances are you are not that atrocious at what you sing. - AUX T.V

The Opera House hosted an evening of vintage sound as Mayer Hawthorne & the County brought some Motown soul to the packed venue this past Friday. The night was filled with hints of nostalgic melodies and soulful rhythms as Toronto born Tanika Charles started the show off with her warm charisma and powerful voice.
Backed by her band the Wonderfuls, Charles continued to make her music reminiscent of 60's R&B. Her intoxicating voice and eclectic sound is parallel to the likes of Etta James or Diana Ross, and the audience was undoubtedly pleased to receive her retro music.
Donned with emerald dress and a peacock feather in her hair, she looked as if she was lifted off the cover of a dusty old Motown or Blue Note record and placed upon the Opera House stage. Her beautiful voice was teamed perfectly with her talented band, the Wonderfuls.Tony Nesbitt-Larking, the band's skilled drummer, kept the pace during the entire set and presented his virtuosic drumming abilities. During her final song "Could I Be Your Love?" Charles introduced all the members of the Wonderfuls, who would display their talents one-by-one with short solos. Tanika Charles & the Wonderfuls was the perfect soulful prologue to the evening of vintage sound.

Tanika Charles at the Opera House - BlogTO Posted by Alex Kamino

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BY David Balzer / Photos by Alyssa K. Faoro April 09, 2010 12:04

AGO goes all out with their roaring twenties–themed Massive Party fundraiser

“Massive Party” is what the AGO has chosen to call their annual, $150-a-ticket fundraiser — and it’s quite the claim, considering how few people from the downtown art scene can actually afford to come. (Conversely, “PowerBall,” The Power Plant’s corresponding event taking place later in spring, is a perfect, baldly schmoozy description of what you can expect from it.) Regardless, a couple of thousand guests packed three floors at the AGO, making the night raucous enough to be considered huge: elevator waits, open-bar grabs and dance floor activity were shoulder-to-shoulder for most of the evening.

This year’s theme was “Speakeasy,” and many respected it (easier to do than with last year’s, “Uprising,” the vagaries of which resulted in plentiful T.O. tuxedos — i.e., sports jackets and jeans). The ladies did the fringed-and-pearled Clara-Bow flapper thing, and a lot of the guys did the Gatsby thing — well, with their hats, anyway. The AGO did their part, too — there were a jalopy and jazz by the Dundas Street valet, for instance — though there were some conspicuously missing elements. AGO Executive Chef Anne Yarymowich served boring new-millennial fare (French-fry cups, chicken skewers, spring rolls); the closest the food came to period-appropriate was the truffled popcorn available in big bowls throughout the gallery. Smirnoff seemed to have gotten hold of the liquor sponsorship, so, ridiculously, there was no gin to be had, bathtub or otherwise — though there were cold-tea spritzers (good) and Smurf-coloured “anti-freeze martinis” (bad).

The multi-storey party set-up of the AGO’s new building also created inevitable Gosford Park-ish stratification. High-rollers stayed on the impossibly busy third-floor Baillie Court, (sort-of) dancing to classic-house crowd pleasers, which also defined sounds in the main-floor atrium, Walker Court. (The DJs were M, Monsieur Cedric and Massive Party mainstay Whitney.) In the basement, usually used for art classes, things were more lively and on point. (The password to get there, soon rendered moot as these things are wont to, was “moonshine.”) A highlight for many (including artist Kelly Mark, wearing an Edward G. Robinson fedora to cover a newly shorn mohawk) were powerhouse soul vocalist Tanika Charles and her equally charismatic Dap-Kings-y band. Afterwards, DJ L’Oquenz tried to keep the energy up with dancehall standards.
- BY David Balzer / Photos by Alyssa K. Faoro April 09, 2010


Tanika Charles has been making a name for herself by opening for acts like The Roots, Estelle, and Bedouin Soundclash while also singing backup for Zaki Ibrahim. Quite a résumé for someone who only decided to sing for the public in 2007. With her deep, warm voice and a classically classy crew of men backing her up, Mz. Chawles has been hitting all the right notes with the old school soul genre (i.e. Sharon Jones).

Now, I’m no expert in style, but if her attire at the Ontario Art Gallery Fundraiser means anything I’d say we have something of a mix between a soul diva and burlesque show going on with her. Either way Mz. Chawles is giving us some good vibes with her first EP that comes out on May 8th. Check out a sneak peak of her track “Sillyhappywild” from her EP What! What? What?! as well as a glimpse of her wild side at the recent AOG show after the jump.

Read more: http://www.thefader.com/2010/04/29/mz-chawles-sillyhappywild-mp3/#ixzz1HZkKO9iQ
- EricS

By David DacksYou can't keep the soul of Toronto, ON down. Tanika Charles (aka Mz. Chawls) represents yet another manifestation of the T-Dot's highly varied soul sounds. At first, the former backup singer for Zaki Ibrahim seems ensconced in a retro soul sound on her debut EP, What! What? What!?, especially given Charles's sense of vintage style. But Rich Kidd's production is contemporary through and through, as samples and live instruments combine into a beat strategy that rises above mere imitation of any era "Can I Be Yours?" takes slightly stuttering kick drums into a 3/4-time ballad, which leavens the sweetness of the lyrics with a little abstraction. Even the Motown-ish, Lauryn Hill-like single, "Sillyhappywild," introduces authoritative low end and cracking rim shots to an otherwise fluffy song. Frequently, the elements come together to startling effect, especially on "Parkdale," Charles's biography of Toronto's artistically rich neighbourhood. Her voice navigates between girlish repartee and full-throated, lower register leads with equal skill. Although this EP sounds kind of budget, that's part of its plucky charm ? better the sound be monetarily challenged than the creativity. This is a promising debut.

How would you describe the sound you were going for on this EP?
I was looking for old school Motown feeling with hip-hop beats. I'm also a bit of a beat junkie, and I like bass.

Tell me about "Mz. Chawls."
Mz. Chawls is a different person. She's got a slight drinking problem. And she's got a bit of an attitude. And she's had her heart broken. I couldn't just go onstage as Tanika Charles; Mz. Chawlz is angry, she needs to get her point across about what happens with her life and her heart and her soul. It's a show! 100-percent.

What did you learn from working with Zaki Ibrahim?
I thought I wasn't going to be a singer at all. I thought I was going to be a stand-up comedian, or at least something to do with acting, just not standing up and singing. I mean, I love music, and it's always been in my home, but when Zaki called me to sing backup for her when she opened up for the Roots, I was like, "Okay, yeah..." I wanted to see what it would be like to go onstage, just to get comfortable. So, what did I learn? I learned to practice, practice, practice. If you're not practicing, what are you doing it for?
(Iqra) - Exclaim!Magazine David Dacks

Best of Toronto – Readers' Pick // Music
R&B artist
Tanika Charles
Tanika Charles

This Toronto-born, Edmonton-raised serenader’s demure stage presence can’t hide the ambitious sparkle in her eye or the magical magnetism of her music. Known affectionately as Mz. Chawls (pictured, right), she’s transcending her best supporting backup singer role with Zaki Ibrahim thanks to stunning performances at ManifesTO 2008 and Luminato. Possessing the elegant grace of Alicia Keys while revealing layers of potential reminiscent of a young Aretha Franklin, her voice is simply irresistible. The passion, heartache and hell fury of a woman scorned are captured with crystal clarity and conviction on Charles’s smouldering 60s-esque ballad Think Of You, which hints at even greater things to come. - NOW Magazine


7 Song EP - What?What!What?! includes songs...
Can I Be Yours, Think Of You, I Am Your Woman, Dancing With Your Ghost, SillHappyWild, Parkdale, Think Of You Acoustic




At once a study in stunning contrasts and genuine emotion, Toronto born Edmonton raised Tanika “Mz Chawls” Charles operates in a sonic time capsule, possessing the assurance of Inez Foxx, the vulnerability of Tammi Terrell, and the smoldering intensity of Betty Wright.

With a timeless code of her ever growing musical design, Charles creates music that gets inside you and stays there, stirring a response that just feels good. There lies the haunting, authentic music that many of us have been yearning for. One part jazz, two parts soul, equal part control with a hint of blues, her sound compliments her character and feels like food for the masses. In the person you find charisma, humor, easy laughter and a continuous flow of creativity; in the artist, you find old school cool and her own unique blend of innovative compositions. Tanika Charles has the sought after ability to paint canvases in which her audience connects and is moved, wrapped in an evolution of layered vocal tones, powerful range and affecting intensity.

It’s no wonder Now Magazine voted Mz. Chawls Best R&B Singer Of 2008, describing her voice as “simply irresistible”.

Critics and fans agreed: the year 2010 saw the single “SillyHappyWild”, produced by Rich Kidd, reach the No 1 spot on Flow 93.5 where it remained gloriously, for four weeks straight.

Then and Now: The Evolution of Mz Chawls.

Tanika Charles has been singing and writing since childhood. It isn’t until 2007, however, when she comes back to her city of birth, that this soulful songstress finally takes to the stage and quickly wins the heart of many in the process.
Mz Chawls started getting noticed as a back up singer to South-African/Canadian recording artist Zaki Ibrahim. She would later go on to tour with Miss Ibrahim and Bedouin Soundclash. Back to Toronto, soon enough Mz Chawls would be asked to open for international acts such as: Estelle, Nneka, Mayer Hawthorne, Macy Gray and Kate-Miller Heidke.
In the midst of these remarkable openers, Mz Chawls effectively established her incontestable status as a powerful solo artist and continued to do what she loves: perform shows of her own, cultivating and connecting with a growing fan base while receiving radiant recognition.

Band Members