By Elio Iannaacci
When it comes to boy pop, indie rock, folk and French-Canadian chanteusery, Canada’s music scene is pretty much taken care of. Female-fronted soul music? Not so much. In the past 20 years, our fair and native land has seen less than a dozen women soar beyond the 49th parallel in the R&B category. Jully Black, Deborah Cox and Tamia made major strides but the only Canadian woman to win a Grammy in an R&B category is Melanie Fiona, who captured two trophies this year for “Fool For You,” a duet with CeeLo Green. Fiona says her success couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Adele turned it around at the Grammys. I’m in a good place,” she says from her home in Toronto while promoting her sophomore disc, The MF Life. “Real voices are being asked to step up to the front of the line.” Fiona’s new songs mix electro, pop and acoustic rock the same way soul heroes such as En Vogue, SWV and Adele have. “I couldn’t be more thrilled that the genre has reopened,” Fiona says. “[We] offer an antidote to all the one-dimensional drama taking over the culture.”
Fiona sees herself as “the complete antithesis” of reality TV. “There’s more out there than just train wrecks when it comes to women in love. None of these shows give people the creative side to heartbreak.”
She’s written for Rihanna, collaborated with Drake and opened for Kanye West, and Fiona plans to keep connecting with musical power players for Canada’s sake. “Drake is putting us on the map for rap, and I want to put us on the map for R&B.”
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