MUMBAI: Sultans of String & Friends, Canadian winners of 3 JUNO Awards and 4 Canadian Folk Music Awards, are now embarking on the most ambitious and essential project of their career: their ninth album entitled “Walking through the Fire” , which will be a fine collection of collaborations with First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists from Turtle Island/Canada. The group has started an INDIEGOGO campaign to raise funds and they would like your support. With your help, we can make this recording a reality! Read the details here.
Visit Sultans of String’s INDIEGOGO page
Accompanying the Sultans of String – Chris McKhool (fiddle), Kevin Laliberté (guitar), Drew Birston (bass) and Rosendo ‘Chendy’ Leon (drums and percussion) will be Ojibwe Potawatomi singer-songwriter Crystal Shawanda performing her song ” The Rez;” co-written with Anishinabe Algonquin/Onkwehón:we Mohawk singer-songwriter Raven Kanatakta (of Digging Roots); co-writing with Mi’kmaq guitarist Don Ross on a song called “Highway of Tears” which also features Métis bassist MJ Dandeneau; Inuit throat singers Kendra Tagoona and Tracy Sarazin; co-writing with Dene singer-songwriter Leela Gilday; Ojibwe/Finnish singer-songwriter Marc Meriläinen brings his Nadjiwan sounds to the album; The North Sound with singer-songwriter Blackfoot Forrest Eaglespeaker and singer-songwriter Nevada Freistadt; Shannon Thunderbird, singer-songwriter of Tsm’syen Elder; Chippewa/Anishinaaba elder and poet Dr. Duke Redbird; Tsm’syen singer Kate Dickson; the Métis Fiddle Quartet; and the Northern Cree Pow Wow Group.
“We want to make a difference in the world, with the music we play. We are creating this album in the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and Final Report that call on Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to work together as an opportunity to show the way forward,” says the group. “We know that as a society we cannot move forward without acknowledging and reflecting on the past. Before reconciliation can take place, the full truth of the Indigenous experience in this country must be told, so we asked Indigenous artists to share with us their stories, their experience and their lives, so that we, Canadian settlers , may we continue to learn about the history of residential schools, cultural genocide and the intergenerational impacts of colonization,” says Chris McKhool.
Dr. Duke Redbird, Chippewa/Anishinaaba elder and collaborating poet, shares, “We have to start with the truth. Reconciliation may come in the future, but right now the truth is where we must begin the journey with each. As human beings, we must acquire this truth.
For this project, the band is working with an advisory circle of Indigenous artists to keep them on track, and band leader/producer McKhool also met with the Honorable Murray Sinclair, Ojibwe Elder and former chair of the Truth Commission and reconciliation, to talk about the project, which has reflected; “The very fact that you’re doing this tells me that you believe in the validity of our language, you believe in the validity of our art and our music and want to help bring that out. And that’s really what’s important thing is that people have faith that we can do this… It’s really good”
Bed tracks are recorded at Jukasa Studio, an Indigenous-owned studio on Indigenous land on the Six Nations reserve south of Hamilton, and collaborating artists are recorded in studios, out in the wild along vital waterways , and powwows. One of the most innovative collaborations is with the band Pow Wow Northern Cree, which earned 9 Grammy nominations. Despite their success, they are eager to co-create a piece with Sultans of String to continue sharing their language and culture via a radio audience. “When you collaborate with mainstream music, it shows that we can work together to bring out the best in who we are as human beings,” says Northern Cree drummer and vocalist Steve Wood. “It shows that we can work together, and we can bring out something very beautiful.”
Sultans of String, three-time JUNO nominees and SiriusXM winners, create “energetic, exciting music from a band with talent to spare!” (Maverick Magazine UK). Enthralling audiences with their multi-genre passport of Celtic coils, flamenco, gypsy jazz, Arabic, Cuban and South Asian rhythms, Sultans of String celebrates musical fusion and human creativity with warmth and virtuosity. The fiery violin dances with the rumba-flamenco guitar, while the bass and percussion create unstoppable grooves. Acoustic strings meet electronic magic to create layers and depth of sound, while world beats excite audiences with the irresistible urge to dance.
Since the release of their debut album Luna in 2007, Sultans of String have continually strived to make each chart-topping album more original and meaningful than the last. This includes working with an orchestra (2013’s Symphony), teaming up with Pakistani sitarist Anwar Khurshid (2015’s Subcontinental Drift) and even creating a world music holiday album (2017’s Christmas Caravan), which charted in Billboard and the New York Times. Their ambition and work ethic have earned them numerous awards and accolades, including three JUNO nominations, first place in the International Songwriting Competition (out of 15,000 entries), three Canadian Folk Music Awards and countless other honours, as well as a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (for conductor Chris McKhool). Their 2020 release Refuge won awards including 2 Independent Music Awards for Instrumental Song of the Year and World Music Producer of the Year, as well as the 2021 CFMA for Producer of the Year for Chris McKhool and John Bailey. The lead track on their follow-up CD Sanctuary was part of John Bailey’s 2022 Engineering JUNO nomination.
McKhool has an Egyptian-born mother who played the piano, taught classical theory and fed her young son as much Middle Eastern cuisine as music lessons. From there, the mighty violinist developed a taste for multi-genre string sounds and found a team of like-minded enthusiasts from around the world. When McKhool first heard founding guitarist Kevin Laliberté’s rumba rhythm, their musical synergy created the signature sound of Sultans of String – the intimate and playful relationship between violin and guitar. From this rich foundation, the dynamic duo grew, featuring such incredible musical friends as pocket bass master Drew Birston and the jaw-dropping beats of percussionist Chendy Leon.
Their live resume is equally stellar. Equally at home in a concert hall, folk and jazz club or festival, the Sultans have played at JUNOfest, legendary club Birdland in New York, Celtic Connections Festival (Glasgow) and Trafalgar Square in London. They sold out Koerner Hall (Toronto’s Carnegie Hall) three times and performed with the Annapolis, Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton Symphony Orchestras. They performed live on CBC’s Canada Live, BBC Radio, BBC TV, Irish National Radio and the World Café, Woodsongs and SiriusXM in Washington. Sultans of String’s musicality and versatility are also showcased in collaborations with such diverse personalities as Paddy Moloney & The Chieftains, Sweet Honey in The Rock, Richard Bona (Paul Simon), Alex Cuba, Ruben Blades, Yasmin Levy, Benoit Bourque, Bela Fleck, Crystal Shawanda and Ken Whiteley.
Sultans of String will perform live this fall, tickets available at http://www.sultansofstring.com
Sep 08 Olney IL • Olney Central College Theater
September 10 Waukegan Illinois • Orlin Trapp Auditorium
Sep 11 Cedar Rapids IA • Paramount Theater
September 13 Minot ND • Minot State University
September 15 Anoka MN • Anoka Senior High School
September 20 Harwood MD • Southern High School
Sep 21 Seaford DE • Madden Auditorium
September 22 Severna Park MD • Severna Park High School
September 24 Boston MA • Roxbury Community College
September 25 Norwood MA • Extended play sessions
October 18 Markham ON • Flato Markham Theater Awards
November 4 Toronto ON • Arab Music and Arts Festival
November 12 Deep Gap NC • Chansons du bois Concerts
November 13 Black Mountain NC • White Horse Black Mountain
November 15 Sandersville GA • Live on stage
November 17 Morgan City LA • Schreier Theater
November 26 Owen Sound ON • Harmony Center
November 27 Kitchener, Ontario • Registry Theater
4 Dec. Gravenhurst ON • Gravenhurst Opera House
December 10 St Catharines ON • FirstOntario Performing Arts Center
December 11 St Catharines ON • FirstOntario Performing Arts Center
December 15 Willow Street PA • Willow Valley Cultural Center
December 17 Midland ON • Brookside Music
December 18 Kleinburg ON • The McMichael Gallery
December 19 Ottawa ON • Algonquin Theater
December 20 Cobourg ON • Concert hall at Victoria Hall
December 21 Toronto ON • Kingston Road Village Concert Series
We would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, and the Canada Council for the Arts.