Canada’s 3x JUNO (Canada’s Grammy) nominees/3x CFMA winning ambassadors of musical diversity, Sultans of String, have expanded the traditional notion of Christmas music with their new, genre-hopping disc, “Christmas Caravan” available on Oct 13 viaMcKhool/CEN/The Orchard, a division of Sony Music. Recorded and co-produced with JUNO Award winning engineer John ‘Beetle’ Bailey, this isn’t your typical holiday album. You may recognize a few titles, but you’ve never experienced seasonal music quite like this before. Watch here
Sultans of String’s acclaimed world music tapestry embraces orchestration and pop on this album, and is spurred on by a stellar cast of guest musicians, bringing even more color to their lively palette.
“We wanted to make a real contribution to the Christmas repertoire, and hopefully create some new standards” says bandleader/violinist and Queens Diamond Jubilee recipient Chris McKhool. “This is a Christmas album, but approached from the perspective of a world-music band. We explored diverse genres, from Quebecois fiddle tunes to collaborating with a traditional Turkish string ensemble, and jump around from the classic sounds of the Andrews Sisters, to a Himalayan sleigh ride, African roots music, Gypsy-jazz, rumba flamenco, ska, and the grandeur of the symphony.”
First, the band made a dream list of their favorite vocal artists to join in on this musical sleigh ride. Their holiday wish came true with 6x Grammy winning Paddy Maloney (The Chieftains), Ruben Blades & Luba Mason (Panamanian 7 Grammy and 5 Latin Grammy Award winner), platinum-selling jazz vocalist NikkiYanofsky, 2x JUNO/Grammy Winner Alex Cuba, Benoit Bourque of Quebec’s Bottine Souriante (3x JUNOs, 4x Gold, 3x Platinum records), Sweet Honey in the Rock (Grammy winning all-woman, African-American a cappella group), Cameroon’s Richard Bona (Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock), Canada’s singer to the stars Rebecca Campbell (Emmylou Harris, Alanis Morissette), singer Mary Fahl from NYC’s October Project, a recording collective of Turkish Roma violinists in Istanbul, Sudanese-Canadian singer WaleedAbdulhamid, Nashville-based JUNO Award winning country singer Crystal Shawanda, sitar virtuoso Anwar Khurshid, and hang drum player David Charrier from France.
Why make a Christmas album, for a band that has earned its street cred on performing music from diverse cultures? McKhool explains “My parents are from Lebanese and Egyptian backgrounds, and also celebrated Christmas in the home. So, Christmas, as well as music from around the globe, was always part of my upbringing. With this record, we created the spiritual Christmas album I have always wanted to hear that honored this tradition, as well as bringing in diverse cultures. As a violin player, I also performed with string orchestras in my youth, so the icing on the cake was traveling to Prague to record with the City of Prague Symphony Orchestra!”