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

Sultans of String Release ‘Symphony!’

Sultans of String Symphony!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WHO ‘n’ WHAT:  Sultans of String release “Symphony!”

BAND WEB:  http://www.sultansofstring.com;                     https://www.facebook.com/sultansofstringhttps://twitter.com/sultansofstring

QUICK STREAM:  http://www.sultansofstring.com/listen

VIDEO:  http://www.youtube.com/user/sultansofstring

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On September 17, 2013, JUNO Award nominees, 2x CFMA & ISC winners, Sultans of String, release their raucous roots-world symphonic mash-up, simply and perfectly titled, “Symphony!”.

Known for dizzying roots music jams, poly-rhythms and revved up riffs, the Sultans of String sound can’t be pinned down — it’s Sable Island meets the Silk Road, with detours through the Gypsy-Jazz coffeehouses of Eastern Europe, next an East Coast Kitchen Party, then over to the majestic Arctic and bustling markets of Lebanon.

Fiery violin dances with rumba-flamenco guitar while funky bass lays down unstoppable grooves. Throughout, acoustic mastery meets with a symphony of sound, deepened by world rhythms that inspire whole audiences to get up and dance.

Kicking things off as a dynamic duo playing tiny cafes in 2007, this fiercely talented and hardworking indie act has been on a meteoric rise, with an astonishing number of awards and accolades in tow.  Invitations to play world stages and with such legendary artists as The Chieftains and David Bromberg are recent highlights. The Chieftains’ very own Paddy Moloney also appears on “Symphony!”.

“Symphony!” is distributed on SONY/RED through Red River Entertainment.  Bob Frank, chairman of Red River (former President of Koch/EI Entertainment) states, “We welcome the opportunity to work with one of Canada’s most innovative groups and look forward to expanding their music and footprint in the US”.

Sultans of String are also represented in the US by acclaimed promoter David Wilkes (Koch Records, Emmylou Harris, Bela Fleck).  “I have worked with numerous top ten chart songs and #1 Pop Billboard and Country music hits”, Wilkes says.  “In all that time, I have not worked with composers more talented than Chris McKhool and Kevin Laliberté from Sultans of String. Not only are they a superb writing team, they are also amazing arrangers & musicians. “Symphony!” is a gigantic leap forward.”

The band is led by 6-string violinist Chris McKhool (Jesse Cook, Pavlo) who grew up in a Lebanese-Egyptian (Makhoul) house bursting with music and diversity. Growing up, Chris was fed a steady diet of delicious musicality alongside Middle Eastern cuisine and violin lessons.

When McKhool first heard founding guitarist Kevin Laliberté’s rumba rhythm, their musical synergy created Sultans of String’s signature sound – the intimate and playful relationship between violin and guitar. From this rich foundation, the dynamic duo has grown, featuring such amazing musical friends as 2nd guitarist Eddie Paton (Robert Michaels), bass master Drew Birston (Chantal Kreviazuk, Amanda Martinez), and Cuban percussionist Chendy Leon (Parachute Club, Alex Cuba), as well as special guests such as Palestinian oud master Bassam Bishara, folk-pop darlings Dala, The Chieftains’ Paddy Moloney, ukulele giant James Hill, and others.

Classically-schooled McKhool thought “why stop there?” With “Symphony!”, Sultans of String have brought the glorious and majestic sound of a full orchestra to their feisty roots-world compositions, to create the ultimate crossover concert and recording.

Due to astronomical costs, orchestral CDs are rarely recorded on Canadian soil, but in such faraway places as Russia or Prague. “But our Canadian musicians are the best on the planet” McKhool asserts, “so we put together an all-star orchestra comprised of our favourite players from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Canadian Opera Company, Canadian Ballet Orchestra, all with no label support. We are super proud of what we achieved.”

— 30 —

TOUR SCHEDULE

Sept 21 – Lake House Music, East Lansing MI

Sept 22 – Nighttown, Cleveland OH

Oct 5 – Performing with Peterborough Symphony Orchestra, Peterborough ON

Oct 11 – Festival Place, Edmonton, AB

Oct 12 – Nickelodeon Music Club, Calgary, AB

Oct 19 – Bancroft Village Playhouse, Bancroft ON

Nov 1 – Registry Theatre, Kitchener, ON

Nov 3 – Mapleview House Concerts, Markdale ON

Nov 7 – Abilene Lounge, Rochester, NY

Nov 10 – The Black Sheep, Wakefield QC

Nov 15 – Nelson Odeon, Nelson, NY

Nov 16 – Oswego Music Hall, Oswego, NY

Nov 17 – Sportsmen’s Tavern, Buffalo NY

Dec 1 – Koerner Hall – Symphony CD Release, Toronto ON

Dec 4 – Sculler’s Jazz Club, Boston MA

Dec 5 – Mansion at Strathmore, North Bethesda, MD

Dec 6 – Joe’s Pub, New York NY

Dec 7 – Building 24 Live, Reading PA

Dec 8 – Bridge Street Live, Collinsville CT

2014
Jan 11 – Matapa Music, Hamilton ON

Jan 18 – Mary Webb Centre, Highgate, ON

Jan 19 – Private Concert, Mississauga, ON

Jan 29 – Capitol Theatre, Nelson BC

Jan 30 – Creston Concert Society, Creston, BC

Feb 1 – Performing with Symphony of the Kootenays, Cranbrook, BC

Feb 2 – Performing with Symphony of the Kootenays, Cranbrook, BC

Feb 4 – Creekside Theatre, Lake Country BC

Feb 5 – Roundhouse Theatre, McBride, BC

Feb 7-8 – Performing with Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, Kamloops, BC

Feb 22 – Performing with Sudbury Symphony Orchestra, Sudbury ON

Mar 22 – Performing with Northumberland Symphony Orchestra, Cobourg ON

Apr 2 – House About Tonight, Spotsylvania VA

Apr 3 – Strand Theater, Waynesville NC

Apr 4 – Carrboro Arts Center, Carrboro NC

Apr 5 – The White Horse, Black Mountain NC

Apr 6 – BK House Concerts, Asheville NC

Apr 11 – Ten Pound Fiddle Concert Series, East Lansing, MI

Apr 26 – Performing with Niagara Symphony Orchestra, ON, Family Show

Apr 27 – Performing with Niagara Symphony Orchestra POPS concert

May 4 – great music series to be announced shortly

May 11 – Minnesota Orchestra, Young People’s Concert

May 16-18 – Trails Tales Tunes Festival, Norris Point Gros Morne National
Park, NL

May 31 – Heartland Concerts at Greece Baptist Church, 1230 Long Pond Road,
Greece, NY

Jun 13 – Aurora Cultural Centre, Aurora ON

Jul 18/19 – Stewart Park Festival, Perth ON

Aug 1-3 – Blue Skies Folk Festival, Clarendon ON

Oct 2/3 – with a Symphony in Chicago, details tba


WHAT FOLKS SAY ABOUT THE SULTANS…

“Kings of the strings!” — METRO Toronto

“Sultans of String are one of Canada’s hottest new musical exports, dynamically embodying their homeland’s values of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures. … they weave a gorgeously-hued tapestry of Folk, Spanish, Arabic, Latin, French and gypsy strands.” — Celtic Connections Festival, UK

“Love those Sultans of String!” — CBC Radio, “Fresh Air”

“Simply brilliant!” — 3NRG 99.3FM, Australia

“Strunz and Farah meets a Cuban rhythm and horn section?  First Canada impresses us with the depth of their cabaret scene now they blow us away with the depth of their world beat scene.  Simply a killer set worthy of all the award recognition it’s been grabbing for the recording and the band.  Everything you could want not put out on the Nonesuch Explorer Series. A real culture clash that harbors no border wars, contemporary world beat and contemporary instrumental fans can only go wrong if they ignore this set.  Killer stuff throughout.” — Midwest Record

“Sultans of String seem to be hoovering up Canadian awards and nominations like a Dyson on speed — a joyful melting pot of jazz, flamenco, folk, and indeed anything else that takes their fancy… this is the sort of band and music that would rip up any festival in the country.” — Maverick Magazine

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

•  2013 ISC International Songwriting Competition Finalist – Instrumental
•  2013 SiriusXM Canadian Indie Awards nominees – World Group of the Year
•  2013 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (Chris McKhool)
•  2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards winners– World Music Group of the Year
•  2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominees – Instrumental Group of the Year
•  2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominees – Pushing The Boundaries
•  2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominees – Producer of the Year (Chris
McKhool)
•  2012 OCFF Songs of the Heart Winner
•  2012 Festivals & Events-Entertainer of The Year
•  2011 Ontario Contact – Artist of the Year
•  2011 International Acoustic Music Awards Finalist – Instrumental
•  2011 Independent Music Award Finalist – Instrumental Album
•  2011 Independent Music Award Finalist –  World Beat Album
•  2011 ISC International Songwriting Competition Finalist  – Instrumental
•  2011 ISC International Songwriting Competition Finalist – World Music
•  2010 JUNO Nominees – “Instrumental Album of the Year”
•  2010 International Songwriting Contest 1st Place Winners – Instrumental
•  2010 Indie Awards Nominees – Favorite World Artist/Group
•  2009 Canadian Folk Music Award winner – Instrumental Group of the Year
•  2009 Canadian Folk Music Award nominees – Ensemble of the Year
•  2009 Canadian Folk Music Award nominees – Pushing The Boundaries
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Sultans of String gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council,
Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, FACTOR, RCM, NOW Magazine,
Classical 96.3, Small World Music, Long & McQuade