Sultans of String Release Second Single from Upcoming Album, Sanctuary: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) featuring Tara Salah Moneka & Ahmed Moneka

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.

BACKSTAGE SCHEDULE (all episodes can be viewed on YouTube at www.youtube.com/sultansofstring after they air):

Sep 10 – Juan Carlos Medrano
Sep 17 – Padideh Ahrarnejad
Sep 24 – Leen Hamo

Oct 1 – Saskia Tomkins 
Oct 8 – Tara and Ahmed Moneka
Oct 15 – Rosendo ‘Chendy’ Leon
Oct 22 – Robi Botos
Oct 29 – Anh Phung

Nov 5 – Donné Roberts / Yukiko Tsutsui
Nov 12 – Tamar Ilana
Nov 19 – Amir Amiri
Nov 26 – Duke Redbird

SPOTIFY: https://tinyurl.com/y5kxh96c
BAND WEBSITE: http://sultansofstring.com  
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/sultansofstring 
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/sultansofstring
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/sultansofstring/

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.

SCHEDULE:

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

Sultans of String Launch New Weekly Online Interview & Music Series: BACKSTAGE

New weekly livestream kicks off Friday with new video/single!

Sultans of String are excited to announce… BACKSTAGE!

Their new online Interview & Music series features guests from their Refuge and Sanctuary albums. Join Sultans of String each Friday at Noon EST on Facebook as they dive into the lives and the music of these fascinating artists, all masters of world music, with connections from around the globe. Together they communicate with each other through the global language of music.

The first episode is this Friday with exceptional artist Juan Carlos Medrano. They will launch their new collaboration video and single “Mi Santuario,” recorded together for Sultans of String’s upcoming Sanctuary album, talk about some really cool Colombian instruments, learn about Juan Carlos’ journey to Canada, and play a couple of tunes together!

Mark your calendars and join the free Livestream each week at https://www.facebook.com/sultansofstring.

THE LINEUP

Sep 10 – Juan Carlos Medrano
Sep 17 – Padideh Ahrarnejad
Sep 24 – Leen Hamo

Oct 1 – Saskia Tomkins
Oct 8 – Tara and Ahmed Moneka
Oct 15 – Naghmeh Farahmand
Oct 22 – Robi Botos
Oct 29 – Anh Phung

Nov 5 – Donné Roberts / Yukiko Tsutsui
Nov 12 – Tamar Ilana
Nov 19 – Amir Amiri
Nov 26 – Duke Redbird

Much gratitude to Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des arts du Canada for their support.

Upcoming shows

  • 10 Sep 2021 Backstage with Sultans of String SULTANS ZOOM ROOM / Online Tickets
  • 12 Sep 2021 Sultans of String THE SHOE PROJECT / Toronto Tickets
  • 17 Sep 2021 Backstage with Sultans of String SULTANS ZOOM ROOM / Online Tickets
  • 20 Sep 2021 ARTS MIDWEST – (ONLINE) / Minneapolis
  • 24 Sep 2021 Backstage with Sultans of String SULTANS ZOOM ROOM / Online Tickets

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

Sultans of String featuring Béla Fleck and Robi Botos release “The Grand Bazaar” from the New Album REFUGE

Artist: Sultans of String
Single: The Grand Bazaar, featuring Béla Fleck and Robi Botos

From the new album REFUGE

Béla Fleck and Robi Botos

“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

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/sultansofstring

SPOTIFY https://tinyurl.com/y5kxh96c

TWITTER: http://twitter.com/sultansofstring

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/sultansofstring/

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.

RECENT AWARDS:

• New York Times Hits List
• 3x BILLBOARD World Music Charts
• Canadian Nielsen World Charts #3
• 3x JUNO Award Nominees – Instrumental
/World
• 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
 

Featuring:
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