David Leask Announces “FIRE & ICE” Video Release from CFMA-Nominated album, Voyageur in Song

David Leask Fire & Ice Music Video Banner

Voyageur In Song is something truly special…the album is a unique and uplifting, almost spiritual listening experience…that rare thing, a genuinely inspiring album.” ~ R’N R Magazine

“Possibly the most Canadian album on Canada’s most historic instrument.” ~ Toronto Star

“FIRE & ICE” Video AVAILABLE NOW at Youtube.com/DavidLeaskMusic

Toronto, ON – Dec. 2, 2021 – Award-winning Scottish-Canadian singer-songwriter, David Leask, has announced the release of his brand-new “FIRE & ICE” video single from, Voyageur in Song, a concept record inspired by the Six String Nation guitar nicknamed Voyageur.

The song was written about Labradorite, an iridescent blue feldspar mineral from Labrador’s Paul’s Island, inlayed on Voyageur’s 3rd and 9th frets. According to local Inuit legend, Labradorite once held the Northern Lights, which were eventually freed by a hunter. “Fire and Ice” imagines the birth of Labradorite from its own geological and mythical perspective. The upbeat melody of the song, complemented by Jaron Freeman-Fox’s violin, is a nod to the movement of light and colour within Labradorite, engaging listeners in the melody the way the mineral captures the eye.

“I wanted the song to have an underlying sense that sometimes we can’t see everything, that beauty can be hiding and we just have to have a closer look or wait, until the light hits in just the right way.” – David Leask

The “FIRE & ICE” video, produced by Big Red Oak Films, is told through the story of a young dancer who must find a way to rise above the competition and prove that she is everything she wants to be to the only person that matters—herself. The video is the culmination of an amazing thread of creativity from the initial artistic vision for the Six String Nation Guitar through to all the inspired artists that followed one another—luthier, singer/songwriter, music and video producers, choreographer, and ballet dancers.

Voyageur in Song by David Leask

Voyageur in Song, Leask’s 7th record, was written and recorded on a uniquely Canadian instrument—the Six String Nation guitar, Voyageur—built from over 64 pieces of natural, indigenous, oral, recorded, and contemporary history from every province and territory in Canada. It honours both the pain and the beauty in Canada’s history and features songs from Haida Gwaii to Labrador, with stops in Saskatchewan, Toronto, and the shores of PEI.

A decorated artist with international acclaim, Leask has been dubbed “the most consistent Canadian songwriting competition winner” by Songwriters Magazine, having won numerous contests including USA and International Songwriting Competitions. Leask is Mississauga Music 2021 Songwriter of the Year and his current record, Voyageur in Song is nominated for Canadian Folk Music Association Contemporary Album of the Year.

Watch the “Fire & Ice” video on YouTube

Connect with David Leask:
www.davidleask.com/voyageur
https://www.instagram.com/leaskexpected/
https://twitter.com/leaskexpected
https://www.facebook.com/DavidLeaskMusic
https://www.youtube.com/davidleaskmusic

Press Contact:
Mary Ellen Beatty: me@rulistening.ca

Your 2021 Sultans of String Christmas Caravan Playlist and Tour

3x JUNO nominees and Billboard-charting SULTANS OF STRING serve up Global Grooves & Holiday Cheer with their 2021 CHRISTMAS CARAVAN YOUTUBE PLAYLIST and TOUR!

YOUTUBE PLAYLIST https://tinyurl.com/sultanschristmasplaylist

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST https://tinyurl.com/mwyhr32w 

LISTEN/BUY ALBUM https://sultansofstring.lnk.to/THc3VID

Canadian band Sultans of String keeps imaginative imperatives in overdrive for the entirety of Christmas Caravan, a generous pitch for global unity through the music of Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. These five musicians have jubilantly recharged the classics with arrangements that demand attention. ★★★★  – Downbeat, USA

As winter crests and the mercury falls, everyone from your taxi driver to the music supervisor at the mall starts running timeless hits like “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.”

But Canada’s global groove wizards Sultans of String wanted to go deeper into this beautiful tradition, and have launched their 2021 Christmas Caravan Playlist, featuring songs from their album which hit Billboard’s World Music Charts and the New York Times Hits List. Recorded and co-produced with JUNO Award-winning engineer John ‘Beetle’ Bailey, Christmas Caravan isn’t your typical holiday collection. You may recognize a few titles but you’ve never experienced seasonal music quite like this before.  They celebrate the holiday spirit with an adventurous musical trip around the world, featuring exuberant originals, world-music-inspired classics, and seasonal favourites to warm your heart on a cold winter’s night.

They kick it off with a fresh version of “Feliz Navidad” along with Alex Cuba, who was just nominated for another Grammy in the Best Latin Pop category with his new album Mendo. In addition to his four Grammy nominations (all for Best Latin Pop Album in 2011, 2016, 2018, and 2022), Cuba has been nominated for five Latin Grammy Awards, four of which he won.

Alex Cuba

From fiery fiddle tunes to a Caribbean sleigh ride, the surprising and delightful holiday Christmas Caravan fiesta heats up when Sultans of String bring their signature sound to well-known gems such as “The Christmas Song,” “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” a Turkish twist on “Greensleeves,” “Silent Night,” a Django-jazz inspired “Django Christmas,” not to mention a Rumba-Flamenca fuelled “Jingle Bells.”

Special guests also include jazz chanteuse Nikki Yanofsky, Mary Fahl from the October Project, hang drum player David Charrier from France, Turkish string group Gundem Yayli Grubu, Canada’s singer to the stars, Rebecca Campbell, African-American a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, Panamanian star Ruben Blades and Luba Mason, Pakistani-Canadian sitar player Anwar Khurshid, and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra!

Of special note is “Sing for Kwanzaa,” a cut featuring Richard Bona and Sudanese-Canadian Waleed Abdulhamid. Fans call Bona “The African Sting,” critics call him a pro, but it’s his unique and electrifying style of connecting with his audience that titles him what he really is—a true musician. This is the perfect song to celebrate Kwanzaa held December 26 – January 1 each year.

“An amazing worldbeat Christmas where even the tried and true is taken to such new and amazing lengths. Very hot stuff clearly made to chase the cold winter away.” – Midwest Record, USA

And Sultans of String is also bringing the show on the road!

Joining Sultans of String for the Christmas Caravan December tour is Rebecca Campbell and on select shows Donné Roberts (JUNO winning African Guitar Summit) w/Singer-Songwriter Yukiko Tsutsui from Japan, soulful-pop JUNO winning singer Kellylee Evans, award-winning flamenco dancer/singer Tamar Ilana, multiple CFMA winner Lynne Hanson, Andalusian classical and Arabic jazz instrumentalist Fethi Nadjem, the velvet voice of Kristine St-Pierre who won CFMA for Francophone Songwriter of the Year, and UK-Canadian multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Saskia Tomkins.

The Christmas Caravan tour also raises awareness of the plight of international refugees and the work of the UN Refugee Agency https://amplify.e-activist.com/14441/p2p/90279/sultansofstring .  As fundraising partners with UNHCR, the band has raised over $10,000 from their community awareness efforts and UNHCR’s ‘tip boxes’.

“Helping refugees is a cause we care about deeply because more than 67 million refugees worldwide are in desperate need of our support. They have every right to live a safe and dignified life as much as we do”, says Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient McKhool. “By supporting this show and partnership with the UNHCR, you are providing life-saving assistance to refugees all over the world.”

This vision is embodied in their double CD offering, Refuge/Sanctuary, which they’re also performing at the Simcoe Theatre show!

WHEN ‘N’ WHERE:

Fri. Dec. 3, 2021 – Collingwood Christmas Concerts @ Simcoe Street Theatre
65 Simcoe St, #Studio 7, Collingwood, ON
8:30 pm EST (Doors: 8:00pm)
Tix/Info: $25
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/collingwood-christmas-market-concert-series-christmas-caravan-tickets-208199679847

Sat. Dec. 4, 2021 – Refuge/Sanctuary @ Simcoe Street Theatre 
65 Simcoe St, #Studio 7, Collingwood, ON
8:30 pm EST (Doors: 8:00pm)
Tix/Info: $25
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/collingwood-christmas-market-concert-series-the-refuge-sanctuary-concert-tickets-208233591277

Fri. Dec. 17, 2021 – Annapolis Symphony @ Maryland Hall
801 Chase St., Annapolis, MD
8:00 pm EST
Tix/Info: $59-$119
https://annapolissymphony.org/events/holiday-pops-sultans-of-string

Sun. Dec. 19, 2021 – Zoom Room Global Livestream
7:00 pm EST
Tix/Info: $10 requested minimum donation
https://sultanschristmas2021.eventbrite.ca

Mon Dec. 20, 2021 – Harmony Concerts @ Algonquin Theatre 
1385 Woodroffe Avenue, Building E, Ottawa
7:00 pm EST (Lobby 6:00 pm / Doors 6:30 pm)
Tix/Info: $35.79 – $56.79  l  613-727-4723 x6442  l  boxoffice@algonquincollege.com
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/sultans-of-string-christmas-caravan-tickets-202065131247

SPECIAL GUESTS:

Rebecca Campbell
Rebecca Campbell is an acclaimed and prolific singer who also serves up percussion, Stella guitar, melodica, and harmonica. Bred in the Maritimes and Ottawa, educated in Montreal, and now based in Toronto, Rebecca has performed with Jane Siberry, Lynn Miles, Porkbelly Futures, Parachute Club, Royal Ottawa, Ian Tamblyn, among countless others. Her gorgeous voice has graced both the big and small screen and on over 120 recordings.

Kellylee Evans
Known for her stunning crystalline voice that is both powerful and emotive, Kellylee Evans is a stylistic connoisseur who has tackled everything from jazz to R&B and pop, in such previous tasty classics as “fight or flight?” and “Nina”, her Juno-winning tribute to the legendary Nina Simone. She recently released “Come On”, and comes on the heels of two nearly career-ending accidents: a freak lightning strike in her Ottawa kitchen and further effects of a concussion suffered during a fall at her home.

Lynne Hanson
Too tough for folk and too blues-influenced for country, Lynne Hanson’s brand of “porch music with a little red dirt” can turn on a dime from a sunshine blue sky ballad to a full-on thunderstorm of gritty Americana swamp from one song to the next.  Lynne is a two-time Canadian Folk Music Award winner, a recipient of the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award, winner of the Blues and Roots Radio International Song Contest, two-time Folk Music Ontario Song From The Heart Blues Award winner,  a two-time Indie Acoustic Project Alt-Country album of the year winner, and a two-time Kerrville New Folk finalist.

Tamar Ilana
Powerhouse vocalist and dancer Tamar Ilana fronts Ventanas, a six-piece Toronto-based world music ensemble featuring the city’s finest world musicians. With songs in Ladino, Spanish, Bulgarian, Hebrew, French, Romani, and Arabic, Tamar Ilana intertwines composite rhythms with flamenco dance, leading audiences down the less-traveled paths of the Mediterranean and mixing in contemporary interpretations of ancient ballads, original compositions, and new choreographies. “I’m a huge admirer,” says Leslie Feist.”

Fethi Nadjem 
Fethi Nadjem was born in 1983 in Algeria where he grew up in a family of musicians and learned Andalusian classical music, becoming accomplished on both violin and mandolin. At the age of 21, he became one of the founders of the acclaimed world music fusion band named Djmawi Africa, performing Andalusian classical music for 13 years across the globe. When he arrived in Toronto to begin a new life in Canada, he continued to pursue his musical career, performing with several bands and musicians. Fethi is a member of the World-Fusion style music band, Moskitto Bar, and additionally performs with the Arabic-Jazz band, Moneka Arabic Jazz.

Donné Roberts
Donné Roberts is a passionate performer who performs mainly in Malagasy, his mother tongue from his birthplace of Madagascar. Yet this never proves to be a barrier to the audience, providing living proof that music truly does transcend language. Donné came to wider recognition for his solo release and his contribution as one of the members of the African Guitar Summit, which won a JUNO, and as a member of Okavango The African Orchestra that also won a JUNO Award.

Kristine St-Pierre
Folk-pop singer-songwriter Kristine St-Pierre captivates audiences with her velvet voice and wide range of emotions that challenge us. In 2018, Kristine received a CFMA for Francophone Songwriter of the Year, and the 1st track hit the Top 10 in SiriusXM’s FrancoCountry channel. In addition to tours across Canada, Kristine has performed in Kenya, Nigeria, Congo, and most recently in Ukraine, establishing closer links between musical creation and the values of respect, inclusiveness, and equality.

Saskia Tomkins
Saskia Tomkins is a British musician and actress, living since 2007 in Ontario. A stellar multi-instrumentalist, she serves up the violin, viola, cello, and nyckelharpa, seamlessly crossing genres, including traditional, modern, jazz, and classical music. In great demand, she has performed with the likes of The Chieftains, Jimmy Bowskill, The Chieftains, Kim Doolittle, Ken Whiteley, and a plethora of other amazing musicians, actors, and dancers! Currently, she performs with hubby  Steáfán Hannigan as Steáfán & Saskia, the instrumental jazz/roots duo 2ish with Brandon Scott Besharah; the Celtic crossover group Cáirdeas, and the jazz trio Marsala and the Imports.

Yukiko Tsutsui 
Yukiko Tsutsui is a singer/songwriter from Akita, Japan. Her compositions are beautifully arranged and are influenced by Japanese contemporary music, traditional folk music, and world music. Since immigrating to Toronto in 2016, she has been performing with various musicians at multiple venues and was selected to perform the Japanese National Anthem at Richo Woodbine Mile broadcasted internally on TSN. Yukiko also produced/hosted her Canadian syndicated and award-winning radio show, Japanese Musiquest, on the Kootenay Coop Radio, exposing listeners to Japanese music and culture.

New Album by SULTANS OF STRING, Sanctuary (The Refuge Project), Transports Listeners to Ethereal Plane with Musical Alchemy

ALBUM REVIEW
by Christine Bode

Just when I thought that Sultans of String couldn’t devise a more ambitious and exciting project than their 2020 album, Refuge, they proved me wrong with the second installment of this project entitled Sanctuary. It is an equally ambitious, diverse, inclusive, and passionate album with a VIP roster of global ‘ambassadors’, some of whom are recent immigrants and refugees to Canada, as well as important Indigenous voices. All are masters of world music that tell the story of how to communicate with others through the global language of sound.

The album was released on Friday, November 5, 2021, on Fontana North! You can listen and purchase digital and hard copies now and also see Sultans of String’s new video for “Ariengue Arianga” at this link: https://smarturl.it/SultansSanctuary.

I was fortunate to be among the first to enjoy a sneak preview of Sanctuary which features this phenomenal guest artist list:

Ahmed Moneka – IRAQ / CAN
Amchok Gompo – TIBET / CAN
Donné Roberts – MADAGASCAR / CAN
Duke Redbird – FIRST NATION INDIGENOUS
Fethi Nadjem – Algeria / CAN
Gundem Yayli Grubu – TURKEY
Juan Carlos Medrano – COLOMBIA / CAN
Leen Hamo – SYRIA / CAN
Marito Marques – PORTUGAL / CAN
Mehmet Akatay – TURKEY
Padideh Ahrarnejad – IRAN / CAN
Ravi Naimpally – INDIA / CAN
Sammy Figueroa – PUERTO RICO / USA
Saskia Tomkins – ENGLAND / CAN
Selcuk Suna – TURKEY / CAN
Suat Suna – TURKEY
Tamar Ilana – CAN
Tara Moneka – IRAQ / CAN
Twin Flames – INDIGENOUS CAN
Yukiko Tsutsui – JAPAN / CAN

Chris McKhool’s grandfather came to North America as a stowaway on a ship in the early 1900s from LEBANON and his pianist mother from EGYPT.  And Sultans of String’s percussionist Rosendo ‘Chendy’ Leon came to North America as a refugee from CUBA.

The regular band includes the hardest working man I know—he never sleeps—the winner of the Canadian Independent Music Association’s 2021 Pivot Award—Chris McKhool, as well as flamenco guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire, Kevin Laliberté, and master bassist Drew Birston!

Working for Chris McKhool and Sultans of String for ten years has opened my ears to more world music than I have ever heard before, so I must credit them for adding sophistication to my musical taste. Not only am I a member of their amazing team, but a huge fan. You may feel similarly about this 3x Juno-nominated group who have accumulated more award honours than any of us can count!

There is so much richness, texture, and complexity to the songs on Sanctuary, that it is an album that becomes more cherished with repeated listening. All the sensational artists who contribute their gifts to the album are to be commended on their stellar performances as they transport us to another place through their musical alchemy.

My favourite tracks include the pure and joyful Madagascar sounds of “Ariengue Arianga”, with music and lyrics by Donné Roberts, arrangement by Sultans of String, and vocals by Donné and Yukiko Tsutsui. “Moroccan Dreams,” my favourite instrumental track, with music by Kevin Laliberté is luscious, wild, and evokes the desire for a Casablanca-like adventure, featuring Padideh Ahrarnejad on tar, and Ravi Naimpally on tabla. Turkish pop star, Suat Suna, lends terrific vocals to a gorgeous version of “Hurricane” (originally released on Refuge), featuring Turkish strings by Gundem Yayli Grubu, among other innovative musical guests. The stunning, passionate up-tempo ballad “Tell the Night” with lyrics and Syrian vocals by the exquisite Leen Hamo could transport you to the Ethereal Plane, while the quietly stunning “Khatenche” featuring breathtaking Tibetan flute by Amchock Gompa, who also wrote the music with McKhool and Laliberté, is perfect for inner reflection.

“Mi Santuario” featuring Colombian musician Juan Carlos Medrano, was the first single released on Friday, September 10, 2021, and the second single “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” (originally recorded by Sonny & Cher) featuring Tara Saleh Moneka and Ahmed Moneka was released on Friday, October 8, 2021.

Sultans of String’s exciting new interview and music series, BACKSTAGE, a free online Livestream from their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/sultansofstring has been featuring different artists from the album since Friday, September 10th with more yet to come. On Friday, November 12, 2021, at NOON EST, Sultans of String will feature powerful and versatile Canadian singer and flamenco dancer, Tamar Ilana.

Tamara Ilana – photo by Carlos Gárate


If you missed these episodes of BACKSTAGE when they were live, you can always visit the group’s Facebook page to watch them in playback and share them with your friends. Some episodes are also on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/sultansofstring.