This summer, Nuela Charles sat at her desk, organizing her budget, trying to determine if she had enough money to cover the cost of her second full length album, Aware. She had already received a $10,000 Rawlco Radio grant, which covered her production costs, but she was short on money for the packaging and design. “I really thought it might not happen,” says the Edmonton musician, “But I didn’t want to give up. So, I was thinking of different ways to generate money – and then I got an email.”
That email changed everything. It was from radio station Hot 107, stating that she was one of six winners in its Hot Factor contest, meaning she won another $10,000. “I was running up and down the house, screaming,” says Charles, who began writing songs and learning to play the guitar and piano as a teenager in the Bahamas before moving to Canada in 2003. The extra money meant the musician, whose songs combine elements of hip hop, R&B and soul, was able to cover all her costs.
She’d already seen success with her first album, A Different Kind of Fire, which was nominated for the 2011 Western Canadian Music Award in the urban recording category. And the song, “Circling Numbers,” won the Gospel Music Association of Canada’s Covenant Award for the urban/R&B song of the year, and was played on 50 stations across the country. Her song, “Summer,” was even featured on an episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Now, there’s good news for her second album, too. After its release in Canada, it’s being released in Japan this month, where she’ll later be doing an acoustic promotional tour, though Charles isn’t sure what parts of the country will be involved yet. Normally she does everything from bookings to organizing photo shoots, sometimes getting as little as three hours of sleep a night. “The good part about this is that they take care of all the promotion and I just have to show up. It’s brilliant,” says Charles.