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Announcing Amazon Music Canada's Breakthrough Artists To Watch 2024 ​

The streaming service has announced six rising Canadian musicians in this year's program: Jonita Gandhi, Fredz, Owen Riegling, Jamie Fine, Anaïs Cardot and Diamond Cafe.

From left: Fredz, Anaïs Cardot, Diamond Café, Owen Riegling, Jamie Fine, Jonita Gandhi

From left: Fredz, Anaïs Cardot, Diamond Café, Owen Riegling, Jamie Fine, Jonita Gandhi

Courtesy Photo

Amazon Music Canada is announcing the six Canadian rising stars included in Breakthrough Artists to Watch 2024. Throughout the year, these six musicians will include support from Amazon Music Canada, including year-long promotion, exclusive music, playlist placement, editorial, and tailored developmental support for each artist's career ambitions.

This year's selections include inaugural Billboard Canada Punjabi Wave cover starJonita Gandhi, francophone rapper Fredz, small-town Ontario country singer Owen Riegling, former breakout star of The LaunchJamie Fine, Ottawa singer-songwriter Anaïs Cardot and Victoria, B.C.-based funk/R&B artist Diamond Cafe.


You can listen to all six in the playlist below:

“The focus of Artist to Watch is to help artists who are bubbling up in Canada find ways to grow their audiences and connect with new fans across the country and globally,” John Murphy, Head of Music, Canada, Amazon Music, tells Billboard Canada. “We’re looking forward to working closely with this year’s group of diverse, promising artists and helping even more fans discover them and their music.”

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One of the goals of the program is to spread regional artists internationally, says Murphy. Amazon Music launched its first Canadian edition of the initiative last year, and Murphy says it more than doubled the total fans of each artist throughout 2023. Madeline Merlo launched an original track on the streaming service called "You'll Think of Me," and more than 50% of its streams have come from outside of Canada.

All six of the artists selected have big plans for 2024, including new music, concerts and some other dreams. To let them speak for themselves, Billboard Canada asked each musician about their year ahead.

Jonita Gandhi

You're putting out a new EP called Love Like That in 2024, your first release of original music on 91 North Records. What do you hope it shows listeners?

I’ve been singing for films in Bollywood, so my audience doesn’t really know what my sound is when it comes to releasing my own independent music. So it's been a journey of: What can I put out that feels true to me, authentic to me, something that I really like in terms of the sound? But it also can't alienate the audience that has come to me over the years for my film music.

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I’ve been exploring, and in the process I’ve now narrowed it down to a specific sound that I feel like really represents me and where I’m from and how I feel about things and the languages that I sing in. I’m really excited about that. I feel like it’s a coming of age for me.

How does it feel to be chosen as one of Amazon Music Canada's Breakthrough Artists To Watch?

I’m so thrilled and honoured and excited. I think it’s an incredible platform for someone like me who is Indo-Canadian, someone who is just starting to roll out her own thoughts and her own vision and her own music. It’s going to be a place where I think I’ll find new listeners. That’s going to be instrumental to me because the sound that we’re putting out in this project, I think will appeal to people across languages, across genres, across backgrounds.

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You were part of Billboard Canada's inaugural digital cover on the Punjabi Wave and its global impact. You sing in multiple different languages including Hindi and Urdu. Do you see yourself as part of that wave, and how are you hoping to expand on it in 2024?

I do see myself as part of that wave. It includes transcending borders with our music and being authentic in our sound and culture and bringing out what makes us unique. I really hope that more people get inspired and more women enter the game and see that the platform exists now for more women to represent our culture and our sound and our language to the world.

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I hope this EP or any of the music I put out this year pushes that concept forward: having brown artists do well on streaming and have people who might not understand the language listening and paying attention. I think that’s really really cool and special.

Fredz

What are your plans for 2024?

I'm releasing my new album at the beginning of 2024. I started working on it when I was 19, and by its release, I'll be 22. I've grown and evolved with it, so it feels strange to finally unveil it to the public. After that, I'm going on tour in Europe and then in Quebec. I can't wait to experience this album on stage with my audience.

I'm trying to build something significant, and I feel that the audience is ready for my project and understands it. That motivates me a lot. I don't think there's a perfect preparation. I'm just doing my best to stay grounded, even if my head is in the stars.

How do you perceive the Quebec francophone hip-hop scene currently?

Quebec hip-hop artists have greatly inspired me in my youth. It's a scene that has built its own identity in a tiny market overwhelmed by international offerings. However, I feel that there's currently a lack of diversity in Quebec rap, and I hope to bring something different to this scene.

I see many artists from my generation using platforms differently and offering completely unique music. I feel that the Quebec hip-hop scene is part of this movement and transitioning towards something new, perhaps more international, or at least more open to the world. And I hope to be a part of it!

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Diamond Cafe

How does it feel to be chosen to this program?

It's a great honour, knowing all the work you put in as a songwriter to get recognition from one of the sources is a feeling you can’t describe.

What do you have planned for 2024 and how do you hope to build off what you did in 2023?

The live performance is going to be huge for me this new year. I’ve been playing live for almost 10 years but the last three shows of 2023 I really got to build and understand myself, and I’m looking forward to bringing these new ideas and what I’ve learned to new stages.

What is your biggest dream for the next year of year career?

To love more.

Jamie Fine

How does it feel to be chosen to Amazon Music Canada's Breakthrough Artists To Watch 2024?

It's is a huge, beautiful way to support artists. Amazon has been such a supporter of me and my music from day one and it makes me so excited for 2024.

What do you have planned for 2024 and how do you hope to build off what you did in 2023?

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In 2023, I set this boundary with myself that I would release music for me, first. I felt that being selfish in healthy ways with my music helped me create the most authentic, genuine ‘art’. 2024 will be no different. I want to release music that makes people feel things, whether they’re happy, sad or angry. I want to give people with my music what music gave me: feeling a little less lonely.

What is your biggest dream for the next year of year career?

I would love to continue growing internationally! Being able to tour in South Africa and watching my music grow in other countries has been so rewarding. Being from Canada, I always get so excited to show off where I’m from and where my career started, and seeing it spread slowly around the world makes me excited for what’s next!

Owen Riegling

What do you have planned for 2024 and how do you hope to build off what you did in 2023?

We have so much music recorded that I am very excited to release, tour with Chase Rice in February, tons of festivals across the country and a bunch more! See you on the road in 2024.

How do you feel about the state of Canadian country music right now? What are hoping to bring to the genre and its stages?

I feel proud to be from Canada. There are so many talented artists and songwriters in this country and I think the world is starting to recognize that and it makes me super excited. I am going to bring a bunch of stories about growing up in a tiny town, some loud guitars, and maybe even a guy named Dan.

What is your goal for 2024?

My biggest goal for this year is to see people connect with the songs I sing. I want to find my people. As long as I am able to write songs, play shows and have fun with my friends I will be the happiest guy.I am so thankful for Amazon’s support and cannot wait to crush 2024.

Anaïs Cardot

What do you have planned for 2024 and how do you hope to build off what you did in 2023?

I have a lot of music that I’ve spent a ton much time on and can’t wait to share. Fingers crossed that leads to more touring so I can see more of those beautiful faces!

What is your biggest dream for the next year of year career?

I don’t know when I’ll realistically be able to achieve it, but I think one of my biggest dreams would be to perform live with an orchestra. I’ve studied a lot about arrangements, and I think my music would lend itself well as a part of something big like that.

P.S. if you're reading this and you have an orchestra, I’m your girl.

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