Submitted by Sandy Graham
‘Take Off The Crown’ is a collaboration between Raven Kanatakta of 2x JUNO Award winning Digging Roots, and 3x JUNO nominated, 6x CFMA winning Sultans of String, with bed tracks recorded at Jukasa Studios, an Indigenous-owned world-class recording facility on the Six Nations reserve south of Hamilton, Ontario. It is the fourth single off the upcoming Sultans album entitled ‘Walking Through the Fire’ (Sept 22, 2023 release), a CD and concert of collaborations with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists across Turtle Island.
The lyrics are penned by Raven Kanatakta Polson-Lahache and Sho-Shona Kish, and the music created with Sultans of String.\
Smudge burning in the morning
Makes a healing cloud
News blackout on the lost ones
100,000 souls singing loud
Listen on Spotify here: https://tinyurl.com/sos-spotify
Says Raven: “The song was written primarily for the children that have been found. We have these stories in our communities about all the lost ones, that lost generation, that stolen generation. And for me, when they started finding more of the children, it brought all those stories that I grew up with to life again. I looked at what the source was. The source is colonialism, and colonialism is directly tied to the Crown”
The country of Canada and the ethics of Canada and the laws of Canada are all intertwined. But the history of this country has been manipulated to create a romantic version of early settlers.
Raven continues: “The Crown is a direct picture of colonialism and genocide in Canada. So many people are suffering from oppression and the effects of oppression that directly comes from the Crown. That directly comes from Canada. That directly comes from the churches who were operating the residential schools. That comes from the RCMP that was created [to push Indigenous people onto reserves]. That comes from all of these systems and this thought-out plan and process to take over a people, to take over a land base.”
A theme that has come up throughout the creation of this project ‘Walking Through the Fire’ is the need for the full truth of Residential Schools and the Indigenous experience to be told, long before Reconciliation can possibly take place.
“People are now telling their stories where they were electrocuted as kids, with electric chairs in the basements of these residential schools or churches… being cattle prodded, being starved and being raped. There’s so much murder to all of this that it’s just unthinkable” says Raven, “And I think this is one of the reasons why we actually need to have a conversation because I, for myself, in the first generation that didn’t have to attend residential schools, nor my wife, Sho-Shona, we raised our own kids exactly how we wanted to. Nobody told us how to do that, and it’s a first, that’s crazy.
Sultans of String violinist Chris McKhool, who was recently awarded the Dr. Duke Redbird Lifetime Achievement Award, is working to amplify these truths through these collaborations in the spirit of the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action, and Final Report that asks that Indigenous and non-Indigenous people work together as an opportunity to show a path forward. “There is lot of history of our country that has been ignored, distorted, twisted to suit colonialist goals of destroying a people.” says McKhool
How many more little bodies will be found…
Bind hearts and minds, take action now
“I think we’re at a perfect time right now to bring out the truth” Raven continues, “Just by more and more little babies being found it kind of strikes a nerve in people to smarten up and to get to the point of, let’s find the truth here together. We have to move beyond ally-ship, and we have to move into relationships of being co-conspirators, get down into the dirt and start working together and start moving forward. Because if we just talk about surface content, nothing will ever get done. So that’s what ‘Take Off The Crown’ is – that we’re all equals here, and we all need to communicate as equals. the land here has always been our teacher and our guide in that way. And I think that we have to come back to some of those fundamental truths and practices that have been happening here since time immemorial.”
And about what it means to become a co-conspirator: “You have to get dirty in order to create, in order to heal, in order to make magic.” Says Raven, “And I think just as you and I were working on this song in the middle of a pandemic, we traded ideas, musical gifts, knowledge, conversation, and that turned into this song. We need music, we need dance, we need ceremony because it’s a medicine that binds the mind and the heart. We need that not just in Canada or Turtle Island, but all over the world right now.
“We actually need Canadians to step up and take that first move. It’s my job to live my life in the best way that I know how, and when it comes to this song ‘Take Off The Crown’, it was collaborating with you Chris.”
Pre-save Take Off The Crown: https://sultansofstring.lnk.to/TakeOffTheCrown
Full album pre-order: https://igg.me/at/sultansCD
We would like to acknowledge funding support from non-Indigenous funding streams of the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, and Canada Council for the Arts.
Please click here to learn more, including how we are including cultural safeguards in our work on this project: https://igg.me/at/sultansCD
Digging Roots: Visit https://www.diggingrootsmusic.com for tour dates.
Sultans of String: Visit https://sultansofstring.com/calendar/ for tour dates
UPCOMING SULTANS OF STRING TOUR DATES:
MAY 12 – Marble Arts Centre, Tweed ON
MAY 13 – Bancroft Village Playhouse, Bancroft ON
MAY 14 – Bryan Jones Theatre, Lakefield College, Lakefield ON
MAY 26 – Brockville Arts Centre, Brockville ON
JUN 08 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – Burlington Performing Arts Centre
JUN 3 – Acoustic Harvest Fundraiser, Toronto ON
JUN 8 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – Burlington PAC
JUN 15 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – Princess Original Cinema, Waterloo ON
JUN 16 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – The Westdale – Hamilton Arts Week
JUN 17 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – Luminato Festival
JUN 20 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – FirstOntario PAC, St Catharines ON
JUN 24 – Mississauga World Music Festival
JUN 24 – Old Church Theatre, Trenton ON
JUN 27 – Wasaga Beach Gazebo, Wasaga Beach ON
JUL 15 – Home County Festival, London ON
JUL 29 – Hillside Festival, Guelph ON