Artist: Sultans of String feat. Raven Kanatakta of Digging Roots
Title: Take Off The Crown
Release date: June 2, 2023
Pre-save Take Off The Crown: https://sultansofstring.lnk.to/TakeOffTheCrown
Full album pre-order: https://igg.me/at/sultansCD
‘Take Off The Crown’ is a collaboration between Raven Kanatakta of 2x JUNO Award-winning Digging Roots and 3x JUNO nominated, 6x CFMA-winning Sultans of String, with bed tracks recorded at Jukasa Studios, an Indigenous-owned world-class recording facility on the Six Nations reserve south of Hamilton, Ontario. It is the fourth single off the upcoming Sultans album entitled Walking Through the Fire (September 22, 2023 release), a CD and concert of collaborations with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists across Turtle Island.
The lyrics are penned by Raven Kanatakta Polson-Lahache and ShoShona Kish, and the music was created with Sultans of String.
Smudge burning in the morning
Makes a healing cloud
News blackout on the lost ones
100,000 souls singing loud
Says Raven: “The song was written primarily for the children that have been found. We have these stories in our communities about all the lost ones, that lost generation, that stolen generation. And for me, when they started finding more of the children, it brought all those stories that I grew up with to life again. I looked at what the source was. The source is colonialism, and colonialism is directly tied to the Crown.”
The country of Canada and the ethics of Canada, and the laws of Canada are all intertwined. But the history of this country has been manipulated to create a romantic version of early settlers.
Raven continues: “The Crown is a direct picture of colonialism and genocide in Canada. So many people are suffering from oppression, and the effects of oppression that directly comes from the Crown. That directly comes from Canada. That directly comes from the churches that were operating the residential schools. That comes from the RCMP that was created [to push Indigenous people onto reserves]. That comes from all of these systems and this thought-out plan and process to take over a people, to take over a land base.”
A theme that has come up throughout the creation of this project, Walking Through the Fire, is the need for the full truth of Residential Schools and the Indigenous experience to be told long before Reconciliation can possibly take place.
“People are now telling their stories where they were electrocuted as kids, with electric chairs in the basements of these residential schools or churches…being cattle prodded, being starved and being raped. There’s so much murder to all of this that it’s just unthinkable,” says Raven, “and I think this is one of the reasons why we actually need to have a conversation because I, for myself, in the first generation that didn’t have to attend residential schools, nor my wife, ShoShona, we raised our own kids exactly how we wanted to. Nobody told us how to do that, and it’s a first; that’s crazy.
Sultans of String violinist Chris McKhool, who was recently awarded the Dr. Duke Redbird Lifetime Achievement Award, is working to amplify these truths through these collaborations in the spirit of the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action, and Final Report that asks that Indigenous and non-Indigenous people work together as an opportunity to show a path forward. “There is a lot of history of our country that has been ignored, distorted, twisted to suit colonialist goals of destroying a people,” says McKhool.
How many more little bodies will be found…
Bind hearts and minds; take action now
“I think we’re at a perfect time right now to bring out the truth,” Raven continues, “Just by more and more little babies being found, it kind of strikes a nerve in people to smarten up and to get to the point of, let’s find the truth here together. We have to move beyond ally-ship, and we have to move into relationships of being co-conspirators, get down into the dirt and start working together and start moving forward. Because if we just talk about surface content, nothing will ever get done. So that’s what ‘Take Off The Crown’ is – that we’re all equals here, and we all need to communicate as equals. The land here has always been our teacher and our guide in that way. And I think that we have to come back to some of those fundamental truths and practices that have been happening here since time immemorial.”
And about what it means to become a co-conspirator: “You have to get dirty in order to create, in order to heal, in order to make magic.” Says Raven, “And I think just as you and I were working on this song in the middle of a pandemic, we traded ideas, musical gifts, knowledge, conversation, and that turned into this song. We need music; we need dance; we need ceremony because it’s a medicine that binds the mind and the heart. We need that not just in Canada or Turtle Island but all over the world right now.
“We actually need Canadians to step up and take that first move. It’s my job to live my life in the best way that I know how, and when it comes to this song ‘Take Off The Crown,’ it was collaborating with you, Chris.”
We would like to acknowledge funding support from non-Indigenous funding streams of the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Please click here to learn more, including how we include cultural safeguards in our work on this project: https://igg.me/at/sultansCD
Digging Roots: Visit https://www.diggingrootsmusic.com for tour dates.
Sultans of String: Visit https://sultansofstring.com/calendar/ for tour dates
UPCOMING SULTANS OF STRING TOUR DATES:
MAY 12 – Marble Arts Centre, Tweed ON
MAY 13 – Bancroft Village Playhouse, Bancroft ON
MAY 14 – Bryan Jones Theatre, Lakefield College, Lakefield ON
MAY 26 – Brockville Arts Centre, Brockville ON
JUN 08 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – Burlington Performing Arts Centre
JUN 3 – Acoustic Harvest Fundraiser, Toronto ON
JUN 8 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – Burlington PAC
JUN 15 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – Princess Original Cinema, Waterloo ON
JUN 16 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – The Westdale – Hamilton Arts Week
JUN 17 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – Luminato Festival
JUN 20 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – FirstOntario PAC, St Catharines ON
JUN 24 – Mississauga World Music Festival
JUN 24 – Old Church Theatre, Trenton ON
JUN 27 – Wasaga Beach Gazebo, Wasaga Beach ON
JUL 15 – Home County Festival, London ON
JUL 29 – Hillside Festival, Guelph ON
Digging Roots bio:
Winner of the 2023 JUNO Award for Contemporary Indigenous Group of the Year
Nominated for 3 Canadian Folk Music Awards
Digging Roots breathe life into songs from their land, Turtle Island, to raise their voices in solidarity with a global chorus of Indigenous artists, activists, and change-makers. For over a decade, two-time JUNO Award winners Digging Roots have traveled the world with a joyful message of resistance, celebrating Anishinaabe and Onkwehón:we traditions of round dance and interconnectedness. As Roots Music Canada says, the band is “…badass, empowering, and hopeful all at the same time.”
Digging Roots takes you on a journey through tall grass, sweet waters, and unconditional love in a joyous and powerful celebration on their 4th album Zhawenim (2022). Led by the electrifying current of husband-and-wife team ShoShona Kish and Raven Kanatakta, the 6-piece band responds to a majestic and spiritual call from ShoShona’s earthy vocals and Raven’s exhilarating guitar mastery through a fusion of blues, soul, and rock ’n’ roll. For long-time fans or new audiences, their constantly evolving live show opens a space, wherever they may be in the world, for healing, compassion, unconditional love, and Baamaadziwin (the good life). Constantly interweaving between drum culture and guitar dialects, Raven and ShoShona were raised in cultural families that have continued to resist oppression and colonialism.
More than a band, Digging Roots have taken their place at the frontline of the fight for equity and representation in the arts, with involvement in industry advocacy and organization to empower arts communities worldwide. ShoShona is the founder of the International Indigenous Music Summit and the music label Ishkōdé Records.
Raven, who studied at Berklee College of Music, “grew up in a small Anishinabe Rez called Winneway in north-western Quebec. It’s formally called Long Point First Nation. It’s where my grandfather and father taught me to hunt, trap, and fish. I also spent my summers on my mother’s Mohawk Rez of Kahnàwa:ke.” ShoShona’s “family is from Batchewana and a part of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge.”
Visit www.diggingrootsmusic.com for tour dates.
Sultans of String bio:
Bandleader Chris McKhool (Makhoul in Lebanon) has an Egyptian-born mother who happened to play piano, teach classical theory, and feed her young son as much Middle Eastern cuisine as she did music lessons. From there, the powerful violinist developed a taste for multi-genre string sounds and found a like-minded crew of all-world enthusiasts. When McKhool first heard founding guitarist Kevin Laliberté’s rumba rhythm, their musical synergy created Sultans of String’s signature sound – the intimate and playful relationship between violin and guitar. From this rich foundation, the dynamic duo grew, featuring such amazing musical friends as in-the-pocket bass master Drew Birston and the jaw-dropping beats of percussionist Chendy Leon.
Their live resume is similarly stellar. Equally at home in a concert hall, folk and jazz club, or festival setting, the Sultans have gigged at JUNOfest, the legendary club Birdland in New York, Celtic Connections Festival (Glasgow), and London’s Trafalgar Square. They have sold out Koerner Hall three times (Toronto’s Carnegie Hall) and performed with the Annapolis, Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton Symphony Orchestras. They have played live on CBC’s Canada Live, BBC Radio, BBC TV, Irish National Radio, and the syndicated World Café, Woodsongs, and SiriusXM in Washington. Sultans of String’s musicianship and versatility are also showcased in collaborations with such diverse luminaries as Paddy Moloney & The Chieftains, Sweet Honey in The Rock, Richard Bona, Alex Cuba, Ruben Blades, Yasmin Levy, Benoit Bourque, Béla Fleck, Crystal Shawanda & Ken Whiteley.