Sun, Jul 17|
StoneCropAcres Winery and Vineyard
“This is a new blues woman on the scene with fantastic chops and a command of songs. She is a valuable addition to the blues world, destined for wide recognition.” — Steve Daniels, Big City Blues
Time & Location
Jul 17, 2022, 7:00 p.m.
StoneCropAcres Winery and Vineyard, 5242 Smiths Rd, Morrisburg, ON K0C 1X0, Canada
About the event
There’s a tendency these days to try to pigeonhole any artist that attempts to breach the boundaries. Chalk it up to the restrictions of radio playlists or the media’s attempt to strictly define musicians by the music it believes artists ought to be making, creative instincts be damned. Juno Award winner Crystal Shawanda opted to defy those demands and chart her own path forward. Her debut album, Dawn of a New Day. debuted in the Billboard Top 20 and her blues album, Church House Blues, brought home a Juno Award in 2021.
hurch House Blues reflects that dedication and devotion and finds her co-writing seven of the ten songs on the album. Produced by her husband, collaborator and cowriter Dewayne Strobel, it not only marks her fourth blues effort to date, but one of her most demonstrative as well. That’s evident at the outset, from the fiery delivery of the title track, the riveting drive of “New Orleans Is Sinking,” and the assertive strains of “Rather Be Alone,” to the quiet, contemplative desire and despair that scorches “Evil Memory,” the radio-ready hooks illuminated in “Hey Love,” and the emotive strains instilled in the bittersweet ballads “When It Comes To Love” and “Bigger Than the Blues.” At the center of it all is Crystal’s evocative vocals, a powerful, provocative force of nature that elevates each encounter and sends the album’s entries soaring towards the stratosphere.
The critics all agree. “Shawanda is a real deal blues artist who isn’t dabbling in blues so much as channeling it,” Steven Ovadia wrote in Elmore Magazine. JD Nash of American Blues Scene raved, “Not only does Shawanda capture KoKo Taylor’s southside growl, but after a brief slow down for breath, morphs into a primal scream that would grab Janis Joplin by the shorthairs.” Bill Wilson, writing in Reflections in Blue, concurred. “Crystal Shawanda is every bit the real deal. This is an incredibly powerful piece of work.”
After scoring initial success as a country artist, she garnered a legion of devotees, marquee status as a major headliner, and even became the subject of a reality show, “Crystal: Living the Dream” as seen on the CMT television network.
She followed her stint at RCA with an independent effort Just Like You, garnering Canada’s prestigious Juno Award in the process. She also had the distinction of performing at President Barrack Obama’s inauguration festivities in 2013. She’s since made her name as a motivational speaker and currently serves as board member of the not-for-profit Nike 7 charitable foundation.
“I veered towards the blues because that’s the music I love to sing,” Crystal says in retrospect. “It feels so natural, the kind of music I was meant to sing. It’s a beautiful release. It’s like letting a bird out of a cage. This is what I’m supposed to do. This is how I fly.”