Sultans of String and Crystal Shawanda Collaborate on New Single Close to Her Heart, “The Rez”

Press Release

Artist: Sultans of String feat. Crystal Shawanda
Title: The Rez
Release date: July 14, 2023

Listen to The Rez here:
Full album pre-order:

“The Rez” is a collaboration between 2x JUNO Award-winning blues and country music artist Crystal Shawanda and 3x JUNO nominated, 6x CFMA winning Sultans of String. Crystal is an Ojibwe Potawatomi Indigenous singer, born in Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, is also decorated with multiple Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards, Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, a CCMA, a Canadian Radio Music Award, and too many JUNO nominations to list.

“I started singing as soon as I could make noise,” says Crystal. “I grew up in a house where everybody listened to all styles of music – and from an early age, I could see that for my family, music was like therapy. So depending on what mood they were in, that’s the song they would listen to. My dad taught me to play guitar, and after he taught me everything he knew, he suggested I take lessons. He always tried to let me know how important it was to be able to play an instrument for myself.”

Initially signed to RCA in 2007, she hit her stride as a country singer and songwriter when she scored a top 20 hit with her song “You Can Let Go” and subsequently tallied sales of over 50,000 copies of her debut album Dawn of a New Day and subsequently debuted in the Billboard Top 20. 

Fast forward 16 years, and even though Crystal now lives in Nashville, with many albums and awards under her belt, she still keeps her ‘Rez’ roots close to her heart.

“I wrote The Rez with Ed Hill and Shay Smith, and it came out of the stories I had shared with them when they asked me what it was like growing up on a reservation,” Crystal explains, “After which they said ‘that sounds like a song,’ and from there it came together pretty quick!”

“I’m very proud of my roots, proud to be a ‘Rez kid,’ she continues. “I grew up around intergenerational trauma, but that’s not all I remember. I can’t speak for everyone’s experience, but in mine, I remember my beautiful family that surrounded me with love and showed me that laughter, like music, can be medicine. I remember my community, so resilient and strong. We have all been through so much, but we’re still here. My roots, ‘The Rez,’ is very much a part of who I am as an artist and person.”

“The Rez” is the fourth single off the upcoming Sultans of String album entitled Walking Through the Fire (Sept 22, 2023 release), the most ambitious and important project of their career, a CD and concert of collaborations with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists across Turtle Island.

Studios were used throughout Ontario to record this track. Crystals vocals were recorded with Grammy and JUNO Award-winning John ‘Beetle’ Bailey at Orange Lounge Recording Studio in Toronto. Sultans of String bed tracks were recorded at Jukasa Studios, an Indigenous-owned world-class recording facility on another reservation, Six Nations of the Grand River, south of Hamilton, Ontario.

Recently asked in an interview if she goes back to Manitoulin, she answered, “Definitely for inspiration. I go to Manitoulin Island to rejuvenate my soul. When I’m there, it’s being around my family, my community, and even just the land. It’s the island, the water, the land. When I’m there, I feel inspired.”

Like the song says:

It’s my blood, it’s my tears,
Everyone I love is here,
Yeah, I know in my heart I was blessed,
To grow up on the Rez.

Please click here to learn more, including how we include cultural safeguards in our work on this project:

Crystal Shawanda:


Sultans of String:



2013 Ontario Tour

Sep 28 – Markham             Flato Markham Theatre
Sep 29 – Stratford              Stratford Symphony
Sep 30 – St Catharines      Niagara Symphony
Oct 1 – St Catharines         Niagara Symphony
Oct 2 – St Catharines         FirstOntario PAC Education Show
Oct 3 – Brantford               Brantford Symphony
Oct 4 – Lindsay                  Flato Academy Theatre
Oct 10 – Sudbury               Café Heritage
Oct 11 – North Bay            Capital Centre
Oct 12 – Timmins               Timmins Museum, O’Gorman HS 
Oct 13 – Geraldton             Geraldton Concert Series
Oct 14 – Thunder Bay        Sleeping Giant Folk Music Society
Oct 15 – Dryden                 Dryden Entertainment Series
Oct 16 – Sioux Lookout      Sioux Hudson Entertainment Series
Oct 17 – Red Lake             Red Lake Entertainment Series
Oct 18 – Kenora                 Lake of the Woods Concert Group
Oct 19 – Fort Frances        Tour de Fort Entertainment Series
Oct 22 – Burlington            Burlington PAC
Oct 23 – Burlington            Burlington PAC Education Show

Nov 12 – Walkerton            Victoria Jubilee Hall


Jan 19 – Ottawa                Centerpointe Theatre
Jan 23 – Kingston              Kingston Grand Theatre
Jan 25 – Brampton             Rose Theatre
Jan 29 – Guelph                River Run Centre Education show
Jan 30 – Guelph                River Run Centre Education show
Feb 1 – Guelph                  River Run Centre


For more information, please contact:

Eric Alper
Publicist  I  Music Commentator  I  Shameless Idealist

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