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Sultans of String present Walking Through the Fire in collaboration with Indigenous artists

A musical collaboration between awarding winning First Nations, Inuit and Metis artists and six-time Canadian Folk Music Awards winners, the Sultans of String, will be touring northern Ont. this month, with stops in Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins, Thunder Bay, Kenora and more.

Walking Through The Fire – an album and live performance – is the end result of a project taken on in the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and Final Report that called for Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to work together to find a path forward.

"We call upon the Canada Council for the Arts to establish a funding priority for Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to undertake collaborative projects and produce works in the reconciliation process," Sultans of String’s violinist Chris McKhool said.

"So for us, this is a way as settler musicians and Sultans of String to meaningfully collaborate with Indigenous artists, create space for conversations to happen, interchange ideas and bring them to audiences to pass them along."

The musical multimedia experience features Alyssa Delbaere-Sawchuk of the Metis Fiddler Quartet, Leela Gilday, The North Sound, Shannon Thunderbird, Don Ross and Marc Merilainen, with virtual performances by nine-time Grammy-nominated Northern Cree powwow group, Kendra Tagoona, Tracy Sarazin and Grammy-nominated Elder and poet Dr. Duke Redbird.

"You get to hear many different styles with many different singers, many different voices and it’s a super fun variety show with deeper meanings as well, we love the fact it’s a show that can give a sense of appreciation for indigenous artists," McKhool said.

Both the live concerts and album feature lyrics in Cree, Michif, Dene, Inuktitut, and Sm’algyax Indigenous languages.

"When we drop the word reconciliation on people, there’s a large group of people who don’t understand what that means, and when you don’t understand something, you are fearful of it," said Mark Rutledge, the show’s Indigenous art director, in a news release last month.

"But if we go through the same experience together, we walk through that fire together, and we come out together on the other end and have that unified experience together. That’s the power in this album."

McKhool was recently awarded the Dr. Duke Redbird Lifetime Achievement Award and JAYU Arts Award for Human Rights for working to amplify these truths through collaborations.

"This country has a history that has been ignored, distorted, twisted to suit colonialist goals of destroying a people," said McKhool.

"We are so fortunate for the opportunity to work with Indigenous artists, sharing their stories, their experiences, and their lives with us so we can continue our work of learning about the history of residential schools, genocide, and intergenerational impacts of colonization."

The show will be performed at Greater Sudbury’s Café Heritage on Oct. 10, at North Bay’s Capitol Centre on Oct. 11 and at the Timmins Museum on Oct. 12.

Tickets for all shows are available through the Sultans of String’s website.

"Music has a special capacity for healing, connecting, and expressing truth," McKhool said. 

Marc Merilänen, a Walking Through The Fire artist said the experience has been great.

"The fact we get to do all these great songs and music together is the highlight of my career," Merilänen said.

"For me, music is about making these human connections. Music transcends. It goes across borders, culture, and I really think, and I truly believe this is one of the things that will unite us as a species." Top Stories

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