Juno Award nominees Sultans Of String have collaborated to create one of their most powerful tracks to date, bringing their sound together with the wisdom of Ojibway Elder Duke Redbird, and stunning vocals by Indigenous artists Twin Flames.
The video is beautiful, with evocative lyrics, and it’s inspirational. “The Power Of The Land” was originally written as a poem by Duke Redbird, and the way the artists have worked together is powerful, with a deeper story as well.
“This is [part of] a project that is centred around the positive and ignored contributions of Indigenous peoples, refugees and new immigrants to U.S.A. and Canada,” said bandleader Chris McKhool, whose Lebanese grandfather stowed away on a ship bound for North America a century ago.
“The Power Of The Land” is an early single from Toronto-based Sultans of String’s upcoming seventh album, Refuge, which will arrive March 20, 2020. Teaming up with a number of international artists, who are themselves immigrants to Canada and the United States, the new album will feature Iraqi violinist Imah Al Taha, Iranian santur master Amir Amiri, Robi Botos, and many more.
“We are bringing in special guests who are the First Peoples of this land, newcomers, as well as global talents who’ve been ambassadors for peace. We wish to celebrate the successes of those who make the journey here, and bring their extraordinary talents with them. We hope that the kinds of conversations we can have as musicians can provide a model for peace that our politicians and citizens find inspiration from.”
The single was recorded at the Indigenous-based and owned Jukasa Studios at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory Reserve, and it came together when McKhool first heard Redbird read “The Power of the Land” at an event at Koerner Hall.
Speaking about the parallels between Indigenous and refugee or new immigrant communities, Redbird said, “the country we live in, since Confederation, has not invited the Indigenous people to share in Confederation, the experience has been one of serious exploitation for our resources, our land and for the capacity of the people to engage in an innovative, creative and inventive way with the dominant culture. What’s happening is similar to new immigrants and refugees, themselves often coming from colonial experiences… they are very empathetic to our experience and as a result, we see a better future for everyone if we all work together.”
Chelsey of Twin Flames talked about the track as well, saying, “I think for me, it furthers the discussions around reconciliation and what that is, here in our country. Having Chris reach out to us in this way and present, not only Indigenous musical voices, but also Indigenous elder voices is an amazing project to be put together. And being right here on Indigenous land at Jukasa Studios, it takes it even to another level.”
Sultans of String have tour dates in Ontario and Alberta until the end of 2019, including Toronto on November 8, and Banff on November 28.
Watch the video for Sultans of String’s “The Power of the Land” below, listen to more of their music on Spotify, visit their website for tour dates, and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.