3x JUNO Nominees and Billboard Charting SULTANS OF STRING Commemorate the Anniversary of the 1988 OJHRI CAMP Disaster With New Video From Their REFUGE Project

WHEN: Video Premiere – Friday April 9, 2021 at 10:30 am EST
SONG: Ojhri Camp, from album Refuge

Sultans of String, featuring Anwar Khurshid & Ravi Naimpally

Go to the video on YouTube at this link https://youtu.be/L4TQs_WGbNI to SET REMINDER for the premiere.

[Toronto ON] Sultans of String are releasing this song to coincide with the April 10 anniversary of the Ojhri Camp disaster that occurred at a military storage centre located in Rawalpindi Military District in Rawalpindi, Punjab Province of Pakistan on April 10, 1988. It was used as an ammunition depot for Afghan Mujahideen fighting against Soviet forces from Afghanistan. The camp exploded, killing more than 1,300 people as a result of rockets and other munitions expelled by the blast.

Sultans of String collaborator, Anwar Khurshid, was working and living nearby, and tells his version of the tragedy, followed by the music it inspired. This song was composed as a collaboration between Anwar, along with violinist and bandleader Chris McKhool, and fellow Sultans of String bandmates Kevin Laliberté, Drew Birston, and Rosendo “Chendy” Leon.

As Anwar recalls: “In 1988 when the Afghan war had just ended in Rawalpindi Islamabad, the capital there was an ammunition depot where ammo was stored. There was a fire and the stored missiles and bombs just started flying around. These were huge bombs, like some were like bigger than this room and they would just fly off and land within the city. They would cause havoc and huge destruction, huge amount of destruction wherever they would fall. Fortunately the fuses had been sort of pulled off so that they didn’t explode but nevertheless they would just fly off and they would destroy houses. You know, people were injured, people died and there were like hundreds of bombs that actually flew away, and hit the cities. 

So it was during the day, I was in Islamabad. I was actually tutoring someone in mathematics, so when this started to happen I came out and I thought we were in a war because these missiles would just go “zzzhhhh”. I had a motorbike and I took this kid and I said well it’s time to go, so we started going towards his home where I was going to deliver him to his family. So when we got there to our horror, there was a bomb sticking through the main living area, like you could see parts of the bomb. Apparently it had hit their house and it had circled around a few times, destroyed everything inside the house, and was just sitting there. Like, the furniture was in bits. Everything inside was just like little pieces. After I left the kid as I’m driving towards my place now I’m actually going in the direction where the bombs are emanating from. It was very scary actually… As I was driving my bike one of my tires blew but I didn’t care I just kept driving and it was utter chaos.”

THIS IS A SONG FROM SULTANS OF STRING ALBUM: REFUGE
Internationally awarded and honoured Canadian band Sultans of String collaborates with over 30 musicians on REFUGE, “a fantastic, moving, dreamlike, epic, timely album.” – Ken Micallef (Jazz Times, Stereophile, Downbeat).

Addressing the struggles of life on Mother Earth has always inspired Sultans of String. On this visionary seventh album, Refuge, they bring their unique brand of musical synergy and collaboration to bear on 13 songs that speak to the challenges facing the world’s displaced peoples–their stories, their songs, their persistence and their humanity.

Joined by an international cast, some of whom are recent immigrants to North America, the celebrated quintet immerses themselves in the plight of the international refugee, and the humanitarian response that should greet everyone in search of a home.

“This project is centred around the positive contributions of refugees and new immigrants to U.S.A. and Canada” says bandleader Chris McKhool (ancestral name Makhoul), whose Lebanese grandfather stowed away on a ship bound for North America a century ago.

“We’re collaborating with special guests on the album who are newcomers to this land, Indigenous artists, as well as global talents who have 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 the conversations we can have as musicians will provide a model for peace that will inspire our politicians and citizens.”


FACEBOOK EVENThttps://www.facebook.com/events/1068966553598746 

BUY/LISTEN NOWhttp://smarturl.it/RefugeAlbum 
REFUGE EPKhttps://spark.adobe.com/page/nTMPzB2pbSPyP 
FACEBOOKhttps://www.facebook.com/sultansofstring 
SPOTIFY https://tinyurl.com/y5kxh96c 
TWITTERhttp://twitter.com/sultansofstring 
INSTAGRAMhttps://www.instagram.com/sultansofstring 

Sultans of String gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts – Digital Originals program. #BringingTheArtsToLife

Refuge was recorded thanks to the support of Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council, with Marketing support from FACTOR.

Lisa Weitz
Manager-Sultans of String
www.sultansofstring.com
416-846-6877 

Eric Alper
Publicist-Sultans of String
Eric@ThatEricAlper.com

Melodic Pop Singer-Songwriter Abby Zotz Releases Official Music Video for “See Your Face” from Local Honey

Abby during See Your Face video shoot

In her debut solo album, Local Honey, Abby Zotz takes an exhilarating leap … with arms wide open … and soars. Infused with a spirit of freedom, her new sound is a satisfying union of wistful pop blended beautifully with gospel, folk and blues; all filtered through her gift for emotional and philosophical contemplation. Abby’s is a voice that is at once authentic and pure, yet time and experience have lent a new edge to it; a broader vocal range and maturity that adds dimension and a touching honesty to her lyrics and emotional depth to her songs.

Launched in October of 2018, Local Honey has been touring Ontario and Quebec and enjoying healthy airplay across Canada. In early 2019, the album garnered two LA Music Critics’ Award nominations and a win for Best International Artist. Its three video singles – Big Hope, Good Bones and See Your Face – capture Zotz’s effortless stylistic adaptability and poeticism of her lyrics without compromising her universal appeal.

SEE YOUR FACE is Abby Zotz’s third video from her award-winning debut solo release, Local Honey, and is an homage to the songwriter’s creative spirit, which often returns to her in the spring, like a banished child finding her way back home. Directed by Sheena D. Robertson and featuring Zotz, Laura Cardeno, Baker Albach and Anntonia Marcucci-Robinson, it is tender and dream-like, leaving the cold Ontario winter behind in favour of love and inspiration blossoming in the warming air. It’s a state that brings us to a sense of homecoming, a return to ourselves, guided by Zotz’s warmly wise lyrics and sweet vocals. SEE YOUR FACE was shot in Northumberland County in late May – after a particularly long winter and wet spring – with photography by Dakota Wotton and editing by Jordan Crute.

“Teems with immense soulfulness…the poetic flourish of her lyric writing elevates the material to a higher level.” ~ NO DEPRESSION

“…a fantastic and cohesive album…that embraces you, while you embrace it.” ~ THE SPILL MAGAZINE

“…she is bar none the most listenable and accessible to fans of all ages, backgrounds and tastes.” ~ VENTS MAGAZINE

“…”an album that sums up all she’s learned as a musician and human being with singular beauty. Substantive musicality and commercial appeal in the same package…natural sounding magic.” ~ THE MUSIC REVIEWS

“…the indie folk album that we’ve all been waiting for…” ~ THE INDIE SOURCE

Ilona Pal’s Americana Single “A Farm In Indiana” Pays Tribute to James Dean’s Hometown

Ilona Pal cd single cover artwork

What you have written, and written well, obviously came from the heart and, for me,“A Farm in Indiana” has that same haunting quality as Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”. And it’s not because it’s about James Dean, it’s just a great song.  I have now listened to it repeatedly and I don’t tire of hearing it.” — Jim Hayes

Ilona Pal has travelled the rails between Montreal and Ottawa many times over, but in November of 2017, that train ride, and a movie about friendship, love and loss inspired a song that gave her wings to fly.

The movie was the 2015 feature film “Life”: the story of photographer Dennis Stock’s historic 1955 photo shoot of iconic actor James Dean in Fairmount, Indiana, for that still famous spread in Life Magazine.

“The song was a gift,” says Ilona. “I wasn’t looking to write a song about James Dean that day, the song was looking for me.” But when the last frame of the film faded to black and the words ‘James Dean died 6 months later’ appeared on the screen, she felt a wave of emotion well up in her chest. That wave soon reached her creative spirit, and all at once, most of the lyrics and melody that would become A Farm In Indiana were born.

Pal, an insightful singer-songwriter from Montreal, first emerged as an independent Canadian New Country artist with her debut single, Hold On Heart, and self-titled album. She landed a spot on the roster at Peter Asher Management in LA, alongside such notable artists as Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. French recordings of her songs have ranked #1 in Quebec and received ADISQ award nominations. Film credits include the closing theme song for Time At The Top (Showtime, HBO).

Produced by Les Cooper (The Good Lovelies, Jill Barber, Andy Stochansky, Craig Cardiff, Meaghan Smith, Madison Violet and David Myles, among others.), a Juno award-winning producer, Les is a songwriter, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, whose arrangements have frequently been compared to those of past greats such as Nelson Riddle and Duke Ellington, earning him a reputation as a composer with a classic and timeless sound.

A Farm in Indiana is their first collaborative writing effort.

Les brought in the magnificent Drew Jurecka to play violin. His soaring emotional solo was a first take, and captured the essence of the song beautifully. His passionate playing conjures up images of love and loss, as well as the sweetness of home and longing to be there. Stylistically, the down-home feel evokes genuine feelings of comfort. The solo is the heart of the arrangement, which features Cooper on guitar, lap steel and banjo, rounding out the ‘Americana’ folk tune.

“The train had a huge influence on this song. It was born on a train, inspired by a train ride when at the age of nine, James Dean brought his mother’s remains back to Fairmount, Indiana from LA, and it was the train that took me to Les in Toronto to produce the song,” mused Pal. “One thing I knew for sure was that the train had to be represented in the rhythm of the song.”

Pal then contacted the Main Street Fairmount organization in Indiana to propose a partnership. She would attach their fundraising initiative to her music video to aid the town of Fairmount in its ongoing effort towards the restoration and preservation of James Dean’s hometown. This was a complete leap of faith on their behalf, but the proposal was met with incredible enthusiasm and excitement, and soon, plans for a performance at the annual James Dean Festival in September were also underway.

“The highlight of making this connection for me was the day I called Marcus Winslow,” says Pal. Winslow, James Dean’s cousin, was like a little brother to him. To this day, he lives on the farm that both inspired the song and figures prominently in the photos of Dean from 1955. So, on a lovely summer afternoon, she called Marcus and told him all about the song. “He’s a gracious man of few words. He listened intently as I explained what I was trying to do,” Ilona recalls. It all seemed to come full circle as she recited the lyrics to him. The song had ultimately ‘come home’, to the place of its inspiration—the dream of every songwriter. 

In September 2018, Ilona performed A Farm in Indiana at the James Dean Festival in Fairmount, Indiana. Appearing on the Main Street stage and at the James Dean memorial service at the Back Creek Friends Church, a huge privilege and honour!

According to Ilona, “this song has legs and it’s moving on a mission unto itself.” She’s just very grateful to be along for the journey and happy the song chose her.

Today would have been James Dean’s 88th birthday.

www.ilonapal.com

ANN VRIEND (AV) Releases New Single + Video IT’S HAPPENING w/ Special Performance by Sifton Elementary Student Choir

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TORONTO – Award-winning soul singer ANN VRIEND (AV) releases a new video and single entitled “IT’S HAPPENING.” Commissioned for a school fundraiser, the students of Sifton Elementary School Choir accompany AV on this empowering and gritty, inner-city soul anthem. The efforts will culminate on Friday, October 26at 2:15 pm with a special performance at the school, 4305 134 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB. For more info please visit www.annvriend.com.

AV sings her heart out about her views of the world; her matter-of-fact, non-sugar-coated observations from her inner city neighborhood; her hard life lessons – and yet there is a soulful, hopeful persistence for herself and the world to be better.

The children’s choir AV recruited to sing the song “It’s Happening” with her, are living proof that as she sings, the change to a more diverse and inclusive society “is already happening.” Propelled by an unstoppable and compelling electric piano groove, the lyrics describe the transcendence of tough circumstances, with a compassionate heart.  With her voice sounding like that of the late Aretha Franklin in her very early Gospel days, AV offers a powerful, socially conscious exhortation.

“It’s Happening” was recorded June 4, 2018, with students from the Sifton Elementary School Choir. Sifton Elementary is a school in North Edmonton where many students come from war-torn countries and traumatizing and/or impoverished situations. The funding of this recording was made possible via an anonymous donor who saw the students and AV perform at a school fundraiser on May 4, 2018. The donor was so moved and inspired by the performance of the song, that he immediately asked how it could be immortalized by a studio recording of it. A week later he graciously provided the funding for this endeavor.  A month to the day after their debut performance, the students, AV, and her producer and videographer, Tino Zolfo, were in the recording studio recording the song and making a music video for it. None of the students had been in a recording studio prior to this date, but have since inspired many people with their talent, hope, and enthusiasm for this venture. AV and all involved in the making of this video would like to thank everyone for listening and being part of this experience.

www.annvriend.com
https://open.spotify.com/album/3HPEpM2xRp3n3k3ujaKCUG
https://play.spotify.com/artist/3vjHMysd98leqhwDotu9fZ
www.youtube.com/user/AnnVriend
www.facebook.com/AnnVriend
https://twitter.com/AnnVriend
www.instagram.com/annvriend

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For more information, photos, mp3s, WAV files, CD copies, interviews, please contact:

MEDIA CONTACT:
SPEAK Music | Beverly Kreller, Publicist
bev@speak-music.com | 416-922-3620
Twitter: @SPEAKMusicPR
Facebook: www.facebook.com/beverly.kreller