Friday June 30, 2017

Listen up, Canada! Three top musicians share their quintessential albums for Canada 150

Clockwise, from top left: Tanika Charles (Instagram), Jenn Grant (Facebook), Zaki Ibrahim (Zahra Siddiqui/Facebook), Feist (Arts and Crafts Productions), Sarah Harmer (Universal Music Canada), Big Black Lincoln (Universal Music Canada).

Clockwise, from top left: Tanika Charles (Instagram), Jenn Grant (Facebook), Zaki Ibrahim (Zahra Siddiqui/Facebook), Feist (Arts and Crafts Productions), Sarah Harmer (Universal Music Canada), Big Black Lincoln (Universal Music Canada).

Listen 16:33

Which iconic Canadian album do you think the whole nation should be listening to this Canada Day?

It's not an easy question to answer. But music is top of mind for many this weekend as thousands descend on Ottawa to celebrate 150 years of official nationhood.

Live music is taking over the nation's capital this weekend, with performances by all-star Canadian acts like Gordon Lightfoot, Alanis Morissette, and Ruth B. 

Still, when it comes to Canadian musical talent, the Canada 150 festivities will barely scratch the surface.

So we asked three of the country's top performers — Tanika CharlesZaki Ibrahim and Jenn Grant — to tell us what album they think all Canadians should have in rotation this July 1.

Here's what each of them had to say about their favourite record by a fellow Canadian artist.

Canada Day music flag

 
                                      

Tanika Charles' pick: Big Black Lincoln, Heaven's Caught on Fire

Album cover - Heaven's Caught on Fire by Big Black Lincoln

(Universal Music Canada)

"Big Black Lincoln is Saukrates — who is one of my favourite musicians of time — and Ro Dolla, Shakari Nyte, T.R.A.C.K.S. and Agile," says Charles. "And they created this masterpiece. It's just a beautiful album."

"I believe this album was a pivotal point in the urban scene. First of all, you couldn't find a rapper — let alone a popular one — that sings. Saukrates was singing, he was rhyming. And it paved the way for artists now to be able to create music like that."

"Saukrates being a  producer; a vocalist, a multi-instrumentalist — he did it all and it was like, 'You know what? It is possible.'"

"It could work — you could be an emcee, you could be a singer, and it would work. You've got Drake now; you've got k-os; you've got K'naan. It's a huge album!"

         

Jenn Grant's pick: Sarah Harmer, You Were Here 
Album Cover - You Were Here (Sarah Harmer)

(Universal Music Canada)

 

"I think Sarah Harmer is an icon," says Grant. "She's one of my heroes, and she's an incredible songwriter. She knows how to write a beautiful sentimental ballad, or she knows how to rock out with her band; she's really diverse in that way. And she's an environmentalist."

"So I think that's an important part about being Canadian — if you can use your voice as an artist to celebrate your country, and the people that live there and who came before us, and try to bring some peace and health to the land, that is so desperately needed. And I think she's an important voice for that."

"The words she's using, like 'the oar dips into oil-like water,' and 'the great night' — it just brings me to that kind of summer night out on the water, where everything is kind of wistful."

"When I think about great Canadian summers I've had, that's what I like to remember."

                

Zaki Ibrahim's pick: Feist, The Reminder

Album Cover - The Reminder by Feist

(Arts & Crafts Productions)

"There's something really sexy about [Feist]," says Ibrahim. "There's something very subtle, and she transports me to a place."

"Whenever I go home to B.C., I'm going home to be calm, and she transports me there every time."

"I think if we were to look at Canada [as if we had] a general personality of sorts, we're not boastful; we're not overstated. Even in our hip-hop scene, we've got an interesting whip-smart, simple appeal."

"I come from … the hip-hop, the the R&B, the electronic beats; heavy-hitting production — that kind of influence … I wasn't listening to quote-unquote 'folk music' or the singer-songwriter stuff a lot growing up."

"But The Reminder was the first that I sank into, and I could not stop listening. And I feel like it really seeped into my music, and my brain and imagination."

  

To hear the rest of our panel discussion with Tanika Charles, Zaki Ibrahim and Jenn Grant, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.

Annie Bender

This story was produced by Annie Bender, an associate producer at Day 6, and the producer of "Facing the Change." She's also worked with q, As it Happens, Cross-Country Checkup, CBC Arts and CBC KW's The Morning Edition.