Artist: Sultans of String
Single: The Grand Bazaar, featuring Béla Fleck and Robi Botos
From the new album REFUGE
“Refuge is a fantastic, moving, dreamlike, epic, timely album.”
~ Ken Micallef (Jazz Times, Stereophile, Downbeat)
New York, NY – Sultans of String release gorgeously evocative and powerful single The Grand Bazaar, featuring 15 time Grammy Award winning American banjo master Béla Fleck and JUNO Award winning Canadian pianist Robi Botos. This song has been awarded Best Instrumental Song by the Independent Music Awards, as well as World Producer Award for the album Refuge, produced by Sultans of String bandleader Chris McKhool and John ‘Beetle’ Bailey.
“This is a project that is centred around the positive contributions of refugees and new immigrants to U.S.A. and Canada,” says McKhool, whose Lebanese grandfather stowed away on a ship bound for North America a century ago. “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”
Béla Fleck reflects: “My family’s story involves immigration. Of course, we came in through Ellis Island, my grandparents on my mother’s side, Jewish-Russian refugees… I was really fortunate that they were able to get out of a dangerous part of the world, and that America took them in at that time. The banjo is a story of immigration. It’s a perfect story of immigration, involuntary immigration. The slaves came to the Americas, not of their own free will, but when they got there, they brought their culture. They built banjos and they played their music, and it got incorporated into what would become American music, and became a major part of it. Yeah, if the banjo isn’t going to welcome people from different countries, I don’t know who would.”
Robi Botos reflects: “I came to Canada in 1998 as a refugee. But my case was rejected and I was nearly kicked out. With the amazing help of musicians, and fans, and people from all kinds of places from the music industry, supported me. Basically, I’ve almost faced deportation. It was very, very tricky and very hard for me to manage to stay in Canada. But it all worked out. I feel like just like any refugees, I always look at any refugees with those eyes, thinking about my case and my situation. I’ve been very blessed and fortunate in the music industry, too. Considering that I’m an instrumental artist who’s raising four kids. We have to look at refugees through those eyes where all of us came here from somewhere else. If it’s not us, it’s our parents or grandparents. I just think it’s amazing what a lot of refugees contribute.”
For further info about the REFUGE project, view EPK: https://spark.adobe.com/page/nTMPzB2pbSPyP/
REFUGE ALBUM LISTEN/BUY LINKS: http://smarturl.it/RefugeAlbum
OFFICIAL BAND WEBSITE: http://sultansofstring.com
MORE ALBUM INFO
Sultans of String are sharing the wealth. In more ways than one.
“We love to expose people to sounds they might not have heard before,” explains violinist and bandleader Chris McKhool, summarizing the mission statement of the groundbreaking and acclaimed world music ensemble. “And we love collaborating with other artists.”
Over the past dozen years and six albums, McKhool and his bandmates — co-founding guitarist Kevin Laliberté, bassist Drew Birston, Cuban percussionist Rosendo ‘Chendy’ Leon and second guitarist Eddie Paton — have excelled at both. Thrilling listeners around North America with their genre-hopping fusion of Celtic reels, flamenco, Gypsy jazz, Arabic, Cuban, and South Asian rhythms, Sultans of String celebrate diversity and creativity with warmth and virtuosity. And they often do it with artists such as Paddy Moloney and The Chieftains, Richard Bona, Benoit Bourque (Bottine Souriante), Nikki Yanofsky, Alex Cuba, Ruben Blades, Crystal Shawanda and Ken Whiteley.
With their historic and visionary seventh album Refuge (Released March 20, 2020), McKhool and co. bring their unique brand of musical synergy and collaboration into the studio like never before. Their most ambitious, diverse, inclusive and passionately political album, Refuge puts the Toronto-based Sultans face-to-face with a VIP roster of artists from around the globe — including American banjo master Bela Fleck, Israeli vocalist Yasmin Levy and others, like Iraqi violinst Imah Al Taha and Iranian santur master Amir Amiri, who have fled the peril and persecution of their homelands for the safer shores of North America.
Sultans of String have never taken the easy road. Since releasing their debut album Luna in 2007, they have continually strived to make each chart-topping album more original and meaningful than the last. That includes working with an orchestra (2013’s Symphony), teaming with Pakistani sitarist Anwar Khurshid (2015’s Subcontinental Drift) and even crafting a world-music holiday album (2017’s Christmas Caravan), which landed them on the Billboard charts and the New York Times. Their ambition and work ethic have garnered them multiple awards and accolades, including three Juno nominations, first place in the International Songwriting Competition (out of 15,000 entries), three Canadian Folk Music Awards, and countless other honours.
Their live resumé is similarly stellar. Equally at home in a concert hall, jazz club or festival setting, the Sultans have gigged at the legendary club Birdland in New York, the renowned Celtic Connections Festival in the U.K. and the San Jose Jazz Festival. They have performed with symphonies across Canada and the U.S., and played live on BBC TV, Irish National Radio, World Cafe and SiriusXM in Washington. No matter the venue, the goal is the same, McKhool says.
“I’ve always wanted our concerts to be a place where everyone feels welcome. I want to reach out to diverse communities to say, ‘Come out and enjoy music with us — you’re going to have a really good time.’ And it’s great to see people from, say, the South Asian community mixed in with the hipster crowd. Or to play some very small towns where they might not have heard a sitar played live before. It benefits society as a whole, to have people from around the world blending their ideas, mixing their cultures.”
And sharing the wealth.
• New York Times Hits List
• 3x BILLBOARD World Music Charts
• Canadian Nielsen World Charts #3
• 3x JUNO Award Nominees – Instrumental
• 4x Canadian Folk Music Awards winners – World Group
• SIRIUSXM Indep. Music Awards Winner- World Group
• Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for bandleader McKhool
• Hit #1 on Earshot National International/World & Jazz Charts
Ahmed Moneka – IRAQ / CAN
Amir Amiri – IRAN / CAN
Anh Phung – VIETNAM / CAN
Anwar Khurshid – PAKISTAN / CAN
Béla Fleck – USA
Demetrios Petsalakis – GREECE / CAN
Donné Roberts – MADAGASCAR / CAN
Duke Redbird – OJIBWE ELDER / CAN
Edmar Castaneda – COLOMBIA / USA
Fethi Nadjem – ALGERIA / CAN
Gundem Yayli Grubu – TURKEY
Ifrah Mansour – SOMALIA / USA
Imad Al Taha – IRAQ / USA
Majd Sekkar – SYRIA / CAN
Marito Marques – PORTUGAL / CAN
Matias Recharte – PERU / CAN
Meg Contini – CAN
Mehmet Akatay- TURKEY
Michel DeQuevedo – MEXICO / CAN
Naghmeh Farahmand – IRAN / CAN
Ravi Naimpally– INDIA / CAN
Rebecca Campbell – CAN
Robi Botos – HUNGARY / CAN
Sammy Figueroa – PUERTO RICO / USA
Selcuk Suna – TURKEY / CAN
Suat Suna – TURKEY
Twin Flames – INDIGENOUS / CAN
Waleed Abdulhamid – SUDAN / CAN
Yasmin Levy – ISRAEL