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A closer look at the 2018 Juno nominees for best R&B/soul recording

Amanda Parris
Listen to Marvin's Room, March 23rd 2018

Marvin's Room with Amanda Parris on CBC Radio


It’s the weekend of the Juno Awards, one of Canada’s biggest celebrations in music, and so we're taking a look at the R&B artists nominated this year.

The category of best R&B/soul recording of the year is a bit of a strange one. It’s the only category that focuses on the genre of R&B at the Junos and the definition of recording is a pretty wide open. Each year the category can include albums, EP’s, even just a single song — all competing against each other.

This year promises to be a fascinating showdown primarily because the Weeknd is not nominated. He’s been the big cheese in this category for several years, taking home the trophy in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017. However it's also a notable year because reportedly none of the artists from Drake's OVO label submitted their work for consideration which means there are no nominations for dvsn, Majid Jordan or PartyNextDoor.

In the absence of these big names, the category has become a little less predictable.

Let's take a look at the nominees:

Jessie Reyez, Kiddo

The first one up is Marvin’s Room fave Jessie Reyez for her EP Kiddo. She’s also nominated for Juno Fan Choice, breakthrough artist of the year and video of the year for “Gatekeeper.” With her long curly hair, frequently baggy clothes and often emotional performances, Reyez’s authenticity alongside her undeniable talent has quickly made her a rising star who has transcended borders.

Her song “Gatekeeper” chronicled her experience of sexual harassment in the music industry and the video was released right before women began publicly emerging with their stories en masse, a movement later given the name #MeToo. Reyez's song became an unintended soundtrack to a cultural moment.

Daniel Caesar, Freudian

Daniel Caesar is the second nominee in the category of best R&B/soul recording for his critically acclaimed album Freudian. The Oshawa, Ont., native is another Marvin’s Room fave who has had an incredible year. His fans include former President Barack Obama, living legend Stevie Wonder and the Queen of Hip Hop Soul Mary J. Blige — a pretty impressive list. This is Caesar’s second year in a row being nominated in this category. He’s also nominated for artist of the year and his album’s artwork, producers and engineers received nominations for their work.

Jahkoy, Foreign Water

Our next Juno nominee is Canadian expat Jahkoy for his debut EP Foreign Water. Jahkoy moved south of the border, and has enjoyed global tours with pop stars such as Kehlani, but the North is still showing him love. Refusing to be pigeon-holed into what has been dubbed the "Toronto Sound," Jahkoy's project is a sonic experimentation that dabbles in light reggae, electronic pop and hints of acoustic soul. His initial dream was to be a rapper but his gamble to transition into R&B has definitely paid off.

Keshia Chanté, Unbound 01

At 14 years old, Keshia Chanté burst onto the Canadian music scene and just three years later she won the Juno for best R&B/Soul recording for her debut album. In the years since, she’s kept busy. Keshia has hosted the music show 106 & Park on BET, has a star on the Brampton Arts Walk of Fame and became the face (and voice) of the province of Ontario’s touring campaign. But now she’s returned to the music and is nominated again over a decade later for her EP Unbound 01.

Jhyve, 'Human'

Jhyve, a.k.a. Jamaal Desmond Bowry, is a new singer on the music scene, but he was nominated for best R&B/soul recording at this year’s Juno Awards for his song "Human" — a clear sign that he’s on the right path. Jhyve comes from a musical family: his parents immigrated to Canada from St. Kitts and Nevis and Jhyve grew up hearing his mother sing in a gospel choir and his father spin records as a former DJ of soca and calypso music. That diversity of sound can be found in his music and it will be interesting to see where this new singer goes next.

Marvin's Room playlist for March 23, 2018

  1. Janelle Monae, “Make me Feel”
  2. Prince & The Revolution, “Kiss”
  3. Sly & The Family Stone, “If You Want me to Stay”
  4. Jessie Reyez, “Great One”
  5. Daniel Caesar, “Blessed”
  6. Freddie Jackson, “Rock me Tonight (For Old Times Sake)”
  7. Bobby Brown, “Rock Wit’cha”
  8. Jahkoy, “No Regrets”
  9. Towkio feat. SZA, “Morning View”
  10. Mya, feat. Dru Hill “It’s All About Me”
  11. Keshia Chanté, “Harmless”
  12. Jhyve, “Human”