Artists for Feel Out Loud, which is a collective of more than 50 Canadian musicians, have created an anthem for the Kids Help Phone and Bell Feel Out Loud campaign to empower youth to find their voice in the midst of widespread mental health struggles across Canada.
“What I Wouldn’t Do (North Star Calling),” features enormous talent the likes of Serena Ryder, Leela Gilday, Alessia Cara, Fefe Dobson, Jully Black, and Shawn Desman.
But it also features some up-and-comers that you’ve definitely heard of, and need to know more about. Here’s all the tea to spill about some of Canada’s biggest voices who are showing up for Canada’s youth.
If you don’t know the name, you know her song, “I’m Not Pretty.” With catchy hooks that celebrate bodies of all shapes like “I’ve got a belly and I’ve got a bum,” and “I’m falling in love with my rum-pum-pum-pum!” you’ve heard this track taking over TikTok and Instagram Reels. And from there, it’s now all over the radio waves. The Vancouver Island native made it onto the Rolling Stone "Breakthrough 25" list, and she won the 2022 Juno Award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year. Jessia is the moment.
The Weeknd isn’t the only Scarborough, Ontario musician to clean up! R&B songstress Loony (born Kira Huszar) also hails from the suburb that boasts Mike Myers, Eric McCormack, and Lilly Singh. She’s teamed up with a who’s who of producers and songwriters, like Akeel Henry, and Pell (aka Jared Pellerin) and her singles like “White Lie” and “Some Kinda Love” even prompted the reigning king of music, Sir Elton John, to proclaim “I love that LOONY!” on his Beats1 Radio show. That’s full circle, seeing as how Elton is also married to a Scarborough, Ontario native, David Furnish!
TOBi (born Oluwatobi Feyisara Ajibolade in Nigeria, and raised in Brampton, Ontario) is up for two major noms at this year’s Junos: Rap album/EP of the year, and Songwriter of the year. In that latter category, he’s facing stiff competition from The Weeknd and Tate McCrae (he’s keeping good company!). Critics have said his tunes reflect on therapy and male privilege on songs like "Flowers," and also explore family trauma through the eyes of a child on songs like "Hoodwinked." His rhymes are so lauded, he was named one of the winners of SOCAN's inaugural Black Canadian Music Awards in 2021, and then was shortlisted for the Polaris!
When the pandemic hit, Nick Durocher lost his job and had to move back into his parents basement. My how the last three years have changed him, because with his runaway guitar-strumming hit “Run Away To Mars,” and his cover of “House of the Rising Sun,” he became a Tiktok sensation, got a shout out on The Late Late Show from James Corden, and is selling out 70,000 seater venues. A big fan of Coldplay, he took his sobriquet from the British band’s hit song “Talk.” Space X CEO Elon Musk even gave an interview with this song in the background. Woah!
Toronto synth-pop musician Ralph (aka Raffaela Weyman) has gone viral on TikTok but it wasn’t for music at first -- it was for talking about how she tripped out after smelling a poisonous angel trumpet flower! Luckily, the viral moment brought ears to her tunes, because her track "Gravity" earned a Juno nomination for dance recording. It was even a personal fave of RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Kim Chi who used the tune on the show and on tour dates. Ralph has since been a judge on Crave’s own Canada’s Drag Race (stream on Crave anytime). Ralph has shared how she's deeply impacted by the concerts she's been to and even framed her three most-cherished concert tickets: a 1999 Backstreet Boys show, the 2008 Spice Girls reunion, and a Fleetwood Mac tour date.
Haviah Mighty is Brampton, Ontario’s best rapper, and we’re not exaggerating. Her 2022 JUNO-winning project “Stock Exchange” saw her become the first woman to win the award for Best Rap Album. She just dropped the music videos for her tracks “Room Service” and last year’s “Honey Bun,” and she’s also got TikTok clout. When TikTok, in partnership with MuchMusic, launched their week-long #WomenInHipHop campaign on February 22 for Black History Month, Haviah Mighty was included prominently in the campaign that saw a huge Billboard soaring above the Scotiabank arena in Toronto.
Another 2023 Juno nominee on the list! Toronto-based Vinyl nabbed a nod for Traditional R&B/soul recording of the year for his 5-track EP Palisade which features songs like “Slowly” that offer a sexy, sensual experience. His lyrics include, “Baby, move slowly / I don’t wanna move way too fast, just give me that / You could pull up on me, we could just laugh,” and “This love was built on wrongs, we made it right / This ain’t momentary love, is for life.” We have no choice but to stan.
Montreal rapper Zach Zoya had a massive hit with his record “Start Over” which racked up over six million streams on Spotify and garnered him massive radio play. He’s also one of the 2023 winners of the SiriusXM Black Canadian Music Awards. Even though French is his first language, he learned how to rap by listening to the greats, like Kendrick Lamar and Drake, and now at 22, he is the first anglophone rapper signed to Quebec label 7ième Ciel.
Chilliwack, BC native Boslen is up against the aforementioned TOBi in the Rap album/EP of the year category of the 2023 Junos, but his rise to stardom has had a few hurdles. It turns out the the sound engineer Anthony Kilhoffer, who is the main engineer for Kanye ‘Ye’ West, sent him a loaded email on why his music was generic and didn’t have a theme. That made Boslen work harder on his releases like “Motionless” and “Motionless II,” the Black Lotus EP, his Capitol Records debut DUSK to DAWN and more recently a seven-song EP, called Gonzo.
LilyIsThatYou’s fun, poppy, sex-positive single “FMRN” amassed over a million views in 24 hours on TikTok. But the line “Can you come f*** me right now?” made the platform shut her down several times. Her videos and her songs were purged entirely until inquiries finally made the platform reinstate her. The Toronto-based pop star born Lily Davies rode the viral wave that ensued, and the song now has 34 million Spotify streams, and each month she gets around 700,000 streams. She’s a sucker for fellow Canadian Avril Lavigne, but also loves her some Dua Lipa.
All of these performers, and more, appear on “What I Wouldn’t Do (North Star Calling).” The track and music video will drop March 2 on Kids Help Phone’s YouTube channel will have its broadcast premiere on March 4, 2023 on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app at 8 p.m. ET ahead of the Buffy Sainte-Marie documentary, Carry it On.
To learn more and donate to Feel Out loud, please visit KidsHelpPhone.ca.