Toronto’s soulful songbird recounts the music markers of her past
PARENTS DISCOVER HER TALENT (1986)
Whitney Houston, “Greatest Love of All”
I was 3 [when] my dad was playing [Whitney Houston] on the guitar. When he switched keys in the musical progression, I would flip it. My dad was like, “She doesn’t just love music, she actually has an ear for it.” I’m an ‘80s baby, so Whitney Houston for me is the voice of choice.
CHILDHOOD BEDTIME (1988)
Sam Cooke, “Cupid”
When I was a little girl, my parents played soul music. My dad would sing that record to me. I think [it] gave me that first taste of what a real love song is about. And coming from a man’s perspective is absolutely incredible. To this day, he even sings it to my niece.
INTRODUCTION TO HIP-HOP MUSIC (1992)
The Pharcyde, “Passin’ Me By”
When I was a little girl in Canada, we didn’t have urban radio stations, MTV or BET. My older brother was hanging with DJs in high school circuits, and that’s how I got my feed. I remember I learned every word to “Passin’ Me By.” My cousin and I would walk along the beach and recite these lyrics, try to master the record. It reminds me a lot of being young and having fun—when hip-hop really felt like something to me.
FINDING HER MUSICAL SOUND (2003)
Alicia Keys, “You Don’t Know My Name”
That song made me go on a hunt to find that sound, to find producers that could help me create old-school soul music [for] new R&B lyrics. She embodied what I was trying to create as an artist.
CATCHING HER EX-BOYFRIEND CHEATING (2008)
Brandy, “Who Is She 2 U”
Not only was he cheating on me, [but] somebody sent me pictures of him cheating. I never knew who she was. I’d never met her. Before I went to confront him, I was getting ready at my house. I put that song on repeat 75 times, sang it [from] the top of my lungs and got into the mode of, “I’m going to walk up on you, confront you with a woman and be like, ‘Who is she?!’” --As told to Erika Ramirez