Since the late 2010s, Québec’s R&B and soul scenes have been buzzing, alongside the evolution of those same scenes in Canada and the U.S. One sure-fire testament to this truth is the fact that ADISQ recently announced the creation of a new Best R&B/soul Album category, whose inaugural Félix Award will be presented in the Fall of 2024. Here’s a profile of five young local artists who shine bright in these genres.


Rau_Ze, L'Habitude, video

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the Rau_Ze song “L’Habitude”

We were convinced after hearing mere seconds of Rau_Ze’s first radio single, “L’Habitude.” A contagious groove – with touches of jazz, neo-soul, and R&B – offers the perfect backdrop for a stunning voice, one that really allows the duo’s originality to shine through.

Rau_Ze is a meeting of two artists who are also friends, and ex-classmates in Cégep, Rose Perron and Félix Paul.

She dreamt of becoming a singer since her early childhood, inspired by the colossal voices of Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday – as well as some of the more impactful Québec artists of their generation, like Marie-Pierre Arthur, Fred Fortin, Avec pas d’casque, and Klô Pelgag. “What really gets me are female voices that scream unabashedly,” says Perron.

He’s a classical and jazz aficionado, and a multi-instrumentalist who didn’t (at least initially) have much interest in “vocal music.” The pair experienced musical love at first sight when they were in school, and amalgamated their distinctive musical baggage. “We put our influences in a cauldron and melted them into our own sound,” says Paul. “It includes references to D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and, more recently, Summer Walker. There wasn’t much happening in that soundscape in Québec, so we started writing in English. But we quickly realized that we had much more to gain by expressing ourselves in our own language.”

The catalyst for the duo was participating in the 2022 Francouvertes, which they won. But instead of piling on shows, and hurrying to release songs after their victory, Rau_Ze elected to take their time. The result of all their work is the album Virer nos vies, that will make it to our collective ears on March 29, 2024.


Anaïs Cardot

Anais Cardot, Colors, video

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the Anaïs Cardot song “Colors”

As far back as she can remember, Anaïs Cardot sang. “I sang with my dad when I was a little one,” confides the singer-songwriter, who lived in Gabon and in France before landing here. “When I was 14, I joined a singing group of my aunt and her friends. We would sing Stevie Wonder, Gospel, and traditional Gabonese music.”

Later in her teens, Cardot bought herself a ukulele, and published videos of her covering songs. Once she arrived in Canada to attend Ottawa University in Environmental Studies, she started earnestly working on her own songs. “I think feeling lonely played a part in that,” she says. “Here I was, in a new country, where I knew no one except for my sister. I was in a new environment, so the stage was set for me to try and find the artist in me.”

A fan of soul, R&B, and jazz, as much as she is of flamenco and bossa nova, the singer-songwriter melds these influences in a rather stripped-down, organic manner on her most recent EP, Pink Magnolia, released in the summer of 2023.

That project’s rich and vibrant sound is partly attributable to her acquaintance with the American musician and producer Anoop D’Souza. “I posted a video he liked, and he got in touch on Instagram,” says Cardot. “We made music remotely for a while, and in 2021, I got myself a plane ticket and went to spend a month in L.A.”

Having accumulated millions of streams on various platforms, Cardot will now focus her energy on her live show for the rest of 2024, while still releasing new songs in the same vein as those on Pink Magnolia.


Hawa B

Hawa B, Hold On, video

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the Hawa B song “Hold On”

Hawa B remembers the first album she got as a gift. “I was four, and it was a Destiny’s Child CD,” she says. “I fell in love with Beyoncé from that point on. She’s been with me since I was four and she’s still there.”

A whole new musical world opened up when she got to high school. “There wasn’t any hip-hop [or R&B] culture at my school. Wanting to fit in, I started exploring rock, beginning with artists like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Radiohead…” says the woman who, at the time, was a singer in a pop rock band.

Moving on to Cégep and university, she started being attracted to jazz, especially classic jazz from the mid-20th Century, and artists like Ella Fitzgerald. That’s the vast background that the singer-songwriter – who earned a Bachelor’s degree in jazz singing – offers through her music.

After a fruitful career as a backup singer for artists of all genres (Renée Wilkin, Elage Diouf, Charlotte Cardin, Hubert Lenoir, Greg Beaudin), she took her solo career in her hands and released her debut EP, Sad in a Good Way, in 2022. “I’ve always composed, but going solo involves a lot of financial pressure,” she explains. “I taught music and singing for a while, but I’ve completely stopped since last year. I’ve even started turning down backup singing gigs. I figured I’d go all-in for my career.”

Her second project, Sadder But Better, will land on listening platforms on April 5, 2024. Crafted alongside renowned producer and multi-instrumentalist Félix Petit (aka FELP), the EP has a clearer poetic and musical direction than its predecessor. “This project is closer to who I am, really,” says B. “The first one was created to bring comfort to people who are close to me, but on this one I got a little more introspective… I’ve explored sadder areas to help me accept some aspects of myself that I don’t like that much. Let’s say it’s a project that helped me accept that not everything is perfect.”



Clerel, Lemon Water, video

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the Clerel song “Lemon Water”

Clerel was destined for a career in chemistry, but everything changed when the Cameroon-born student visited the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis.

Discovering the music of Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and so many more artists who left a mark there since the late 1950s, made the singer want to dig deeper into the realm of soul. “I think it’s their message that spoke to me,” says Clerel. “I felt like these artists were communicating something real to me, something profoundly authentic, with a timeless message – that has survived the test of time. I literally wondered how I’d spent so many years not listening to that music.”

Clerel arrived in Montréal from the U.S. in 2013, alongside his mom, who’d landed a position as a fiscal auditor. After spending some solitary moments, he started chasing down every open mic event he could find in the city. “It was my nocturnal hobby, my mental release,” he says. “I needed to meet people, and make myself known a little.”

The artist started posting music videos on Facebook and, slowly, the idea of framing them in a more formal setting, in a recording studio, started taking hold. In 2018, he joined forces with producer and sound engineer Kento Kataoka to record his first EP, Songs from Under a Guava Tree, released in 2019. The singer’s musical signature became clearer on his next EP, Interlude, sung in French this time, released in 2021. “In between those two releases, I met a ton of people from the music world,” says Clerel. “That made me want to open myself to other things.”

Without leaving behind his love of soul, Clerel no longer hesitates to explore vaster territories like chanson française, modern R&B, and pop. “I like making music that’s intended for an audience,” he says. “It requires listening to people, and moving towards a music that’s closer to who we are. I remain within the limits of my tastes, but I like the idea of touching as many people as possible,” says the artist, whose third EP will be released in June of 2024.


 Täbi Yösha

Tabi Yosha, Around You, video

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the Täbi Yösha song “Around You”

As a kid, Täbi Yösha just couldn’t keep still. “I sang, I was constantly dancing, I wanted to be filmed constantly… I couldn’t stop moving! I told my mom I was either going to be a singer or a doctor!” she says.

The former quickly took over the latter. As a fan of hip-hop (Tupac, Biggie, Lauryn Hill) and R&B (TLC, Erykah Badu, Destiny’s Child) since her childhood, Yösha was drawn to the melodies and rhythms of those genres – while also being fascinated by the vocal vibrato of some of her favourite artists. Her parents enrolled her in the choir of a community centre in Laval, and that triggered something even stronger. She wrote and recorded her first songs at the very beginning of her teens, at the same time as she was building her reputation as the most formidable singer and freestyler of her school.

Her passion continued growing in her twenties. She blind-auditioned twice for La Voix (the Québec franchise of The Voice TV singing competition), but, alas, not successfully. “It was really difficult to see that the chairs weren’t turning around, especially the second time,” she says.

But Yösha’s not the type to give up. During the 2010s, she made a living as a member of The Souldiers, a band specialized in corporate gigs and weddings. Although they covered jazz and house music, she continued writing her own material. At the turn of this decade, the stars finally aligned, and that’s when she picked her stage name. “My real name [which she prefers keeping a secret] is the one that’s associated to my role as a mom, and to the woman who learns other people’s songs,” she says. “Täbi Yösha is a risk-taker. She’s a bit nuts, and she’s not shy… She’s someone else.”

The artist introduced herself in 2022 on the remix album of Ariane Moffatt’s classic, Aquanaute, which was turning 20 that year. In 2023, her debut EP True Colors was released by Bonsound Records. “Since then, I’ve been getting acquainted with myself at the same time as my audience,” says Yösha. “I’m meeting more and more people from the music world who vibrate at the same frequency as I do.”

While we wait for her project, which she’s worked on with renowned hip-hop producers such as High Klassified and Da-P, Yösha will be performing at several festivals in the summer of 2024, and will release an amapiano remix of her song “Loving You with a Broken Heart.”