This powerful project is the result of inspired musical and poetic collaborations between an array of gifted Indigenous artists from a wide variety of musics and tribal identities, and the highly regarded, multiple award-winning Sultans of String, which includes producer Chris McKhool on violin and viola, producer Kevin Laliberte on nylon-, steel-string and electric guitars, Drew Birston on electric and acoustic bass and Rosendo “Chandy” Leon Jr. on drums and percussion. These diverse artists – Indigenous and non-indigenous have joined together in the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and Final Report, which sparked the co-creation of Walking Through Fire – the title of both the CD and live touring performances, which began on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation this year.
There are 14 original tracks here, each inspiring, thought-provoking and brilliantly produced. Works of particular beauty include A Beautiful Darkness featuring Ojibwe vocalist Marc Märileinen, backed by a thrilling wall of sound, punctuated by McKhool’s haunting violin lines; Kó, with luminous and resonant vocals by Dene artists Leela Gilday and Leanne Taneton and The Rez – a deeply moving ballad featuring both rock and fiddling motifs alongside a stirring, soulful vocal from young, contemporary Ojibwe performer Crystal Shawanda.
Also unforgettable is the soul-searing Take Off the Crown, where the incomprehensible horror of the murdered children is explored in a place beyond tears, introduced by “Digging Roots” member Raven Kanatakta (Anishinaabe Algonquin/Onkwehón:we Mohawk). Our Mother The Earth is also a gem, featuring masterful work from the Sultans of String as well as the vocal gravitas of the eminent Dr. Duke Redbird (Chippewa/Anishinaabe). This project is a rare gift from all of the artists involved… the gift of creativity, collaboration and hope for our future.