Your 2021 Sultans of String Christmas Caravan Playlist and Tour

3x JUNO nominees and Billboard-charting SULTANS OF STRING serve up Global Grooves & Holiday Cheer with their 2021 CHRISTMAS CARAVAN YOUTUBE PLAYLIST and TOUR!

YOUTUBE PLAYLIST https://tinyurl.com/sultanschristmasplaylist

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST https://tinyurl.com/mwyhr32w 

LISTEN/BUY ALBUM https://sultansofstring.lnk.to/THc3VID

Canadian band Sultans of String keeps imaginative imperatives in overdrive for the entirety of Christmas Caravan, a generous pitch for global unity through the music of Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. These five musicians have jubilantly recharged the classics with arrangements that demand attention. ★★★★  – Downbeat, USA

As winter crests and the mercury falls, everyone from your taxi driver to the music supervisor at the mall starts running timeless hits like “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.”

But Canada’s global groove wizards Sultans of String wanted to go deeper into this beautiful tradition, and have launched their 2021 Christmas Caravan Playlist, featuring songs from their album which hit Billboard’s World Music Charts and the New York Times Hits List. Recorded and co-produced with JUNO Award-winning engineer John ‘Beetle’ Bailey, Christmas Caravan isn’t your typical holiday collection. You may recognize a few titles but you’ve never experienced seasonal music quite like this before.  They celebrate the holiday spirit with an adventurous musical trip around the world, featuring exuberant originals, world-music-inspired classics, and seasonal favourites to warm your heart on a cold winter’s night.

They kick it off with a fresh version of “Feliz Navidad” along with Alex Cuba, who was just nominated for another Grammy in the Best Latin Pop category with his new album Mendo. In addition to his four Grammy nominations (all for Best Latin Pop Album in 2011, 2016, 2018, and 2022), Cuba has been nominated for five Latin Grammy Awards, four of which he won.

Alex Cuba

From fiery fiddle tunes to a Caribbean sleigh ride, the surprising and delightful holiday Christmas Caravan fiesta heats up when Sultans of String bring their signature sound to well-known gems such as “The Christmas Song,” “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” a Turkish twist on “Greensleeves,” “Silent Night,” a Django-jazz inspired “Django Christmas,” not to mention a Rumba-Flamenca fuelled “Jingle Bells.”

Special guests also include jazz chanteuse Nikki Yanofsky, Mary Fahl from the October Project, hang drum player David Charrier from France, Turkish string group Gundem Yayli Grubu, Canada’s singer to the stars, Rebecca Campbell, African-American a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, Panamanian star Ruben Blades and Luba Mason, Pakistani-Canadian sitar player Anwar Khurshid, and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra!

Of special note is “Sing for Kwanzaa,” a cut featuring Richard Bona and Sudanese-Canadian Waleed Abdulhamid. Fans call Bona “The African Sting,” critics call him a pro, but it’s his unique and electrifying style of connecting with his audience that titles him what he really is—a true musician. This is the perfect song to celebrate Kwanzaa held December 26 – January 1 each year.

“An amazing worldbeat Christmas where even the tried and true is taken to such new and amazing lengths. Very hot stuff clearly made to chase the cold winter away.” – Midwest Record, USA

And Sultans of String is also bringing the show on the road!

Joining Sultans of String for the Christmas Caravan December tour is Rebecca Campbell and on select shows Donné Roberts (JUNO winning African Guitar Summit) w/Singer-Songwriter Yukiko Tsutsui from Japan, soulful-pop JUNO winning singer Kellylee Evans, award-winning flamenco dancer/singer Tamar Ilana, multiple CFMA winner Lynne Hanson, Andalusian classical and Arabic jazz instrumentalist Fethi Nadjem, the velvet voice of Kristine St-Pierre who won CFMA for Francophone Songwriter of the Year, and UK-Canadian multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Saskia Tomkins.

The Christmas Caravan tour also raises awareness of the plight of international refugees and the work of the UN Refugee Agency https://amplify.e-activist.com/14441/p2p/90279/sultansofstring .  As fundraising partners with UNHCR, the band has raised over $10,000 from their community awareness efforts and UNHCR’s ‘tip boxes’.

“Helping refugees is a cause we care about deeply because more than 67 million refugees worldwide are in desperate need of our support. They have every right to live a safe and dignified life as much as we do”, says Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient McKhool. “By supporting this show and partnership with the UNHCR, you are providing life-saving assistance to refugees all over the world.”

This vision is embodied in their double CD offering, Refuge/Sanctuary, which they’re also performing at the Simcoe Theatre show!

WHEN ‘N’ WHERE:

Fri. Dec. 3, 2021 – Collingwood Christmas Concerts @ Simcoe Street Theatre
65 Simcoe St, #Studio 7, Collingwood, ON
8:30 pm EST (Doors: 8:00pm)
Tix/Info: $25
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/collingwood-christmas-market-concert-series-christmas-caravan-tickets-208199679847

Sat. Dec. 4, 2021 – Refuge/Sanctuary @ Simcoe Street Theatre 
65 Simcoe St, #Studio 7, Collingwood, ON
8:30 pm EST (Doors: 8:00pm)
Tix/Info: $25
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/collingwood-christmas-market-concert-series-the-refuge-sanctuary-concert-tickets-208233591277

Fri. Dec. 17, 2021 – Annapolis Symphony @ Maryland Hall
801 Chase St., Annapolis, MD
8:00 pm EST
Tix/Info: $59-$119
https://annapolissymphony.org/events/holiday-pops-sultans-of-string

Sun. Dec. 19, 2021 – Zoom Room Global Livestream
7:00 pm EST
Tix/Info: $10 requested minimum donation
https://sultanschristmas2021.eventbrite.ca

Mon Dec. 20, 2021 – Harmony Concerts @ Algonquin Theatre 
1385 Woodroffe Avenue, Building E, Ottawa
7:00 pm EST (Lobby 6:00 pm / Doors 6:30 pm)
Tix/Info: $35.79 – $56.79  l  613-727-4723 x6442  l  boxoffice@algonquincollege.com
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/sultans-of-string-christmas-caravan-tickets-202065131247

SPECIAL GUESTS:

Rebecca Campbell
Rebecca Campbell is an acclaimed and prolific singer who also serves up percussion, Stella guitar, melodica, and harmonica. Bred in the Maritimes and Ottawa, educated in Montreal, and now based in Toronto, Rebecca has performed with Jane Siberry, Lynn Miles, Porkbelly Futures, Parachute Club, Royal Ottawa, Ian Tamblyn, among countless others. Her gorgeous voice has graced both the big and small screen and on over 120 recordings.

Kellylee Evans
Known for her stunning crystalline voice that is both powerful and emotive, Kellylee Evans is a stylistic connoisseur who has tackled everything from jazz to R&B and pop, in such previous tasty classics as “fight or flight?” and “Nina”, her Juno-winning tribute to the legendary Nina Simone. She recently released “Come On”, and comes on the heels of two nearly career-ending accidents: a freak lightning strike in her Ottawa kitchen and further effects of a concussion suffered during a fall at her home.

Lynne Hanson
Too tough for folk and too blues-influenced for country, Lynne Hanson’s brand of “porch music with a little red dirt” can turn on a dime from a sunshine blue sky ballad to a full-on thunderstorm of gritty Americana swamp from one song to the next.  Lynne is a two-time Canadian Folk Music Award winner, a recipient of the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award, winner of the Blues and Roots Radio International Song Contest, two-time Folk Music Ontario Song From The Heart Blues Award winner,  a two-time Indie Acoustic Project Alt-Country album of the year winner, and a two-time Kerrville New Folk finalist.

Tamar Ilana
Powerhouse vocalist and dancer Tamar Ilana fronts Ventanas, a six-piece Toronto-based world music ensemble featuring the city’s finest world musicians. With songs in Ladino, Spanish, Bulgarian, Hebrew, French, Romani, and Arabic, Tamar Ilana intertwines composite rhythms with flamenco dance, leading audiences down the less-traveled paths of the Mediterranean and mixing in contemporary interpretations of ancient ballads, original compositions, and new choreographies. “I’m a huge admirer,” says Leslie Feist.”

Fethi Nadjem 
Fethi Nadjem was born in 1983 in Algeria where he grew up in a family of musicians and learned Andalusian classical music, becoming accomplished on both violin and mandolin. At the age of 21, he became one of the founders of the acclaimed world music fusion band named Djmawi Africa, performing Andalusian classical music for 13 years across the globe. When he arrived in Toronto to begin a new life in Canada, he continued to pursue his musical career, performing with several bands and musicians. Fethi is a member of the World-Fusion style music band, Moskitto Bar, and additionally performs with the Arabic-Jazz band, Moneka Arabic Jazz.

Donné Roberts
Donné Roberts is a passionate performer who performs mainly in Malagasy, his mother tongue from his birthplace of Madagascar. Yet this never proves to be a barrier to the audience, providing living proof that music truly does transcend language. Donné came to wider recognition for his solo release and his contribution as one of the members of the African Guitar Summit, which won a JUNO, and as a member of Okavango The African Orchestra that also won a JUNO Award.

Kristine St-Pierre
Folk-pop singer-songwriter Kristine St-Pierre captivates audiences with her velvet voice and wide range of emotions that challenge us. In 2018, Kristine received a CFMA for Francophone Songwriter of the Year, and the 1st track hit the Top 10 in SiriusXM’s FrancoCountry channel. In addition to tours across Canada, Kristine has performed in Kenya, Nigeria, Congo, and most recently in Ukraine, establishing closer links between musical creation and the values of respect, inclusiveness, and equality.

Saskia Tomkins
Saskia Tomkins is a British musician and actress, living since 2007 in Ontario. A stellar multi-instrumentalist, she serves up the violin, viola, cello, and nyckelharpa, seamlessly crossing genres, including traditional, modern, jazz, and classical music. In great demand, she has performed with the likes of The Chieftains, Jimmy Bowskill, The Chieftains, Kim Doolittle, Ken Whiteley, and a plethora of other amazing musicians, actors, and dancers! Currently, she performs with hubby  Steáfán Hannigan as Steáfán & Saskia, the instrumental jazz/roots duo 2ish with Brandon Scott Besharah; the Celtic crossover group Cáirdeas, and the jazz trio Marsala and the Imports.

Yukiko Tsutsui 
Yukiko Tsutsui is a singer/songwriter from Akita, Japan. Her compositions are beautifully arranged and are influenced by Japanese contemporary music, traditional folk music, and world music. Since immigrating to Toronto in 2016, she has been performing with various musicians at multiple venues and was selected to perform the Japanese National Anthem at Richo Woodbine Mile broadcasted internally on TSN. Yukiko also produced/hosted her Canadian syndicated and award-winning radio show, Japanese Musiquest, on the Kootenay Coop Radio, exposing listeners to Japanese music and culture.

New Album by SULTANS OF STRING, Sanctuary (The Refuge Project), Transports Listeners to Ethereal Plane with Musical Alchemy

ALBUM REVIEW
by Christine Bode

Just when I thought that Sultans of String couldn’t devise a more ambitious and exciting project than their 2020 album, Refuge, they proved me wrong with the second installment of this project entitled Sanctuary. It is an equally ambitious, diverse, inclusive, and passionate album 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 tell the story of how to communicate with others through the global language of sound.

The album was released on Friday, November 5, 2021, on Fontana North! You can listen and purchase digital and hard copies now and also see Sultans of String’s new video for “Ariengue Arianga” at this link: https://smarturl.it/SultansSanctuary.

I was fortunate to be among the first to enjoy a sneak preview of Sanctuary which features this phenomenal guest artist list:

Ahmed Moneka – IRAQ / CAN
Amchok Gompo – TIBET / CAN
Donné Roberts – MADAGASCAR / CAN
Duke Redbird – FIRST NATION INDIGENOUS
Fethi Nadjem – Algeria / CAN
Gundem Yayli Grubu – TURKEY
Juan Carlos Medrano – COLOMBIA / CAN
Leen Hamo – SYRIA / CAN
Marito Marques – PORTUGAL / CAN
Mehmet Akatay – TURKEY
Padideh Ahrarnejad – IRAN / CAN
Ravi Naimpally – INDIA / CAN
Sammy Figueroa – PUERTO RICO / USA
Saskia Tomkins – ENGLAND / CAN
Selcuk Suna – TURKEY / CAN
Suat Suna – TURKEY
Tamar Ilana – CAN
Tara Moneka – IRAQ / CAN
Twin Flames – INDIGENOUS CAN
Yukiko Tsutsui – JAPAN / CAN

Chris McKhool’s grandfather came to North America as a stowaway on a ship in the early 1900s from LEBANON and his pianist mother from EGYPT.  And Sultans of String’s percussionist Rosendo ‘Chendy’ Leon came to North America as a refugee from CUBA.

The regular band includes the hardest working man I know—he never sleeps—the winner of the Canadian Independent Music Association’s 2021 Pivot Award—Chris McKhool, as well as flamenco guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire, Kevin Laliberté, and master bassist Drew Birston!

Working for Chris McKhool and Sultans of String for ten years has opened my ears to more world music than I have ever heard before, so I must credit them for adding sophistication to my musical taste. Not only am I a member of their amazing team, but a huge fan. You may feel similarly about this 3x Juno-nominated group who have accumulated more award honours than any of us can count!

There is so much richness, texture, and complexity to the songs on Sanctuary, that it is an album that becomes more cherished with repeated listening. All the sensational artists who contribute their gifts to the album are to be commended on their stellar performances as they transport us to another place through their musical alchemy.

My favourite tracks include the pure and joyful Madagascar sounds of “Ariengue Arianga”, with music and lyrics by Donné Roberts, arrangement by Sultans of String, and vocals by Donné and Yukiko Tsutsui. “Moroccan Dreams,” my favourite instrumental track, with music by Kevin Laliberté is luscious, wild, and evokes the desire for a Casablanca-like adventure, featuring Padideh Ahrarnejad on tar, and Ravi Naimpally on tabla. Turkish pop star, Suat Suna, lends terrific vocals to a gorgeous version of “Hurricane” (originally released on Refuge), featuring Turkish strings by Gundem Yayli Grubu, among other innovative musical guests. The stunning, passionate up-tempo ballad “Tell the Night” with lyrics and Syrian vocals by the exquisite Leen Hamo could transport you to the Ethereal Plane, while the quietly stunning “Khatenche” featuring breathtaking Tibetan flute by Amchock Gompa, who also wrote the music with McKhool and Laliberté, is perfect for inner reflection.

“Mi Santuario” featuring Colombian musician Juan Carlos Medrano, was the first single released on Friday, September 10, 2021, and the second single “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” (originally recorded by Sonny & Cher) featuring Tara Saleh Moneka and Ahmed Moneka was released on Friday, October 8, 2021.

Sultans of String’s exciting new interview and music series, BACKSTAGE, a free online Livestream from their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/sultansofstring has been featuring different artists from the album since Friday, September 10th with more yet to come. On Friday, November 12, 2021, at NOON EST, Sultans of String will feature powerful and versatile Canadian singer and flamenco dancer, Tamar Ilana.

Tamara Ilana – photo by Carlos Gárate


If you missed these episodes of BACKSTAGE when they were live, you can always visit the group’s Facebook page to watch them in playback and share them with your friends. Some episodes are also on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/sultansofstring.

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