“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, 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.
Sultans of String Release Second Single from Upcoming Album, Sanctuary: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) featuring Tara Salah Moneka & Ahmed Moneka
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Artist: Sultans of String Single: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)feat. Tara Salah Moneka & Ahmed Moneka Release date: October 8, 2021 from upcoming album, Sanctuary (releasing Nov 10)
BRAND NEW SINGLE FROM 3X JUNO AWARD NOMINEES/ 3X CFMA WINNERS SULTANS OF STRING
“Energetic and exciting music fest from a band with talent to burn… the very epitome of world music: no boundaries, no rules!” – Maverick Music Magazine
[Toronto, ON] NY Times and BILLBOARD charting world music supergroup Sultans of String released their brand-new single “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” on Oct 8, 2021. This song features the four core Sultans as well as incredibly talented and inspiring special guests Tara Salah Moneka & Ahmed Moneka.
Originally written by Sonny Bono, and sung by Cher and Nancy Sinatra, this is a new take on the song that speaks to people from the perspective of marginalized voices and is a benchmark of how the world has changed with the Black Lives Matter movement, and the thirst for equality around the world.
Sultans of String worked with Ahmed on their previous album, Refuge. An artist and a musician from Baghdad, Iraq, Ahmed came as an artist to Canada and then stayed as a refugee in order to save his life towards the end of 2015. “I love what I’m doing here now and Toronto gave me a lot of opportunity to continue my journey as an artist. I used to be an actor and I did a lot of projects and my work focus about human rights and supporting the story that no one telling it before. So I came to TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival, as a main actor in film called The Society. And this movie, it was the first film talking about the history of homosexuality in Iraq, the first film like of its kind in Iraq.”
“We filmed the film, but we were scared to screen it until 2015. Then the first premier was in Cannes Festival and it was a nice, amazing exposure to the film. And then TIFF, they got it to screen, and then that’s why I ended up in Toronto on the red carpet.
At the same time, there was a revolution in Baghdad in the summer 2015, with a lot of ISIS in the North of Iraq, and people fighting. There was crazy chaos.
Several people, like the open-minded people, they were taking over, Ahmed continues. “So I was part of the revolution as well. And then in September in the fall I came to TIFF, to Toronto, and they were screening the film. TIFF, they made a big exposure of this film. It’s the first film in history, of the people. They went to my father because my father is very well known as an actor in Iraq as well, and told him, ‘Hey listen if Ahmed comes back, we’ll cut his body into little pieces so you’re not allowed to come back, let him stay in Toronto’. So I got exiled, literally, from my country and that was really crazy. I started my journey without knowing any English. And then I started learning English, in an ESL school as a refugee, like political refugee in the new country, and that’s why I ended up in Toronto.”
It was just this past year that his super talented younger sister Tara and the rest of his family would join him here, with an emotional greeting at the airport in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that risked derailing the entire settlement process. She was also forced to flee the country with her parents after receiving multiple threats from militiamen against her singing. To them, Tara’s music is considered forbidden (haram), shutting down events where Tara would appear and directly threatening her life.
The whole arts community is so grateful for their presence here. Sultans of String bandleader Chris McKhool chimes in: “Ahmed and Tara are amazing individuals. They are so strong and full of hope for a better tomorrow. And I think in a way they teach us to be better Canadians by seeing our country through their eyes!”
Ahmed says, “Toronto made me a musician, to be honest. I have African heritage. So that made me know how to play drums. When I was still young, we sang as a ceremony, a ritual thing, with the family. Then without knowing how to speak and to communicate with people, I felt the music is the best way to share and express myself.
“Love is the main reason for a great future. And that I feel the privilege of art and this amazing collaboration happening, like what’s happening in this album, exactly is in home and nationalities. How many people, how many different backgrounds. Toronto makes you feel not stranger because a lot of immigrants, it’s based on immigrants.”
Since his arrival, Ahmed has certainly ingratiated himself to his adopted country and has collaborated with many artistic institutions, including the Canadian Opera Company, Tarragon Theatre, Aga Khan Museum, Tafelmusik, Driftwood Theatre Group, Toronto Jazz Festival, Koerner Hall and many others. He is one of the founders of the band Moskitto Bar and is the creator and leader of Moneka Arabic Jazz – a 2019 Stingray Rising Stars Winner at the Toronto Jazz Festival. His sister Tara seems to be following in his footsteps and is becoming a key player in the local arts scene.
They continue to teach us about how to be better people.
“Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”was released in standard stereo as well as Dolby Atmos on Oct. 8.
Tara Salah Moneka & Ahmed Moneka also appeared on October 8 at noon EST on BACKSTAGE with Sultans of String, a free Livestream broadcast at www.facebook.com/sultansofstring that features in-depth connections with guest artists, fan interactive conversations, video premieres, and up close and personal interviews with the artists, discovering their stories behind the songs that include tales of struggles and success, and of course, live music.
DISTRIBUTORS: Canada – Fontana North USA/World – C.E.N. (Orchard/SONY) UK/EUROPE – Proper Music Distribution
MORE ABOUT THE UPCOMING ALBUM, SANCTUARY:
“Mi Santuario” is the first single off Sanctuary, the highly anticipated eighth album from Sultans of String. It is the second instalment in their Refuge Project. The first, simply entitled Refuge, was heralded as “a fantastic, moving, dreamlike, epic, timely album,” by Ken Micallef (Jazz Times, Stereophile, Downbeat), and won many awards, including Producer of the Year at the 2021 Canadian Folk Music Awards for bandleader and violinist Chris McKhool.
This ambitious, diverse, inclusive, and passionately political album puts the band face-to-face 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 communicate with each other through the global language of music.
Addressing the struggles of life on Mother Earth has always inspired Toronto-based quintet, Sultans of String. On Sanctuary, Sultans of String bring their unique brand of musical synergy and collaboration to bear on eleven 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 quartet immerses themselves in the plight of the international refugee on Refuge and the humanitarian response that should greet everyone in search of a home.
Bandleader Chris McKhool explains “The larger Refuge Project is centred around the positive contributions of refugees and new immigrants to Canada. We are bringing in special guests that are newcomers to this land, as well as global talents that 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, in this case, music. Each one of us has a remarkable story to tell, and we are excited to share the beauty of these collaborations with you.”
Sanctuary features seven new tracks with stellar performances by Tara and Ahmed Moneka from Iraq, Amchok Gompo from Tibet, Donné Roberts from Madagascar with partner Yukiko Tsutsui from Japan, Algeria’s Fethi Nadjem, Juan Carlos Medrano from Colombia, Syrian refugee Leen Hamo, Iran’s Padideh Ahrarnejad, and Nyckelharpa player Saskia Tomkins.
It also includes three stunning new versions of songs from Refuge. These include an astonishingly gorgeous orchestral version of “The Power of the Land” featuring Indigenous performers Duke Redbird and Twin Flames, Turkish mega-pop star Suat Suna singing “Hurricane,” and flamenco dancer and singer Tamar Ilana singing a version of “Asi Soy” that will rip your heart out.
Sept 10 – Single #1 – “Mi Santuario”
Oct 8 – Single #2 – “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”
Nov. 5 – Sanctuary – Full album release – Physical & Digital
[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.”