Sultans of String unleash new single, “Hurricane”

Sultans of String are back with their new single, “Hurricane” featuring Turkish Pop Superstar, Suat Suna

Sultans of String, the 3x JUNO Award-nominees, and 4x Canadian Folk Music Award-winners have shared their new single, “Hurricane” from their eighth and most recent album, Sanctuary: The Refugee Project. The track features Turkish pop superstar Suat Suna recording English vocals for the first time.

The start of the recording process for “Hurricane” began at Jukasa, a world-class recording facility on the Six Nations Indigenous reserve between Toronto and Buffalo.

Then violinist, bandleader, and co-producer Chris McKhool traveled with JUNO Award-winning engineer John ‘Beetle’ Bailey to continue recording in Istanbul. Suat came into Canavar Studio which overlooks the Bosphorus strait in northwestern Turkey that forms part of the continental boundary between Asia and Europe. Suat spent the afternoon cutting the vocals before world famous Turkish percussionist Mehmet Akatay came in to record darbuka on the song.

Next up was recording the strings with Gündem Yayli Grubu, a collection of Roma string players that perform and record for many Turkish pop stars. “They have a very distinct sound, all of their own, that cannot be replicated anywhere on the planet.” Those strings give a strong flavour of the ‘old world’ to “Hurricane,” which is an ode to the first Lebanese immigrants to North America.

“My family name would have been pronounced Makhoul back in Lebanon, but when my grandfather was processed upon arrival in 1903 he probably had a Scottish border guard that thought it would be nice to give the spelling a Scottish flair, hence the oddball spelling for a Lebanese name,” explains McKhool.

These first Lebanese to Canada and the U.S. came with no money in their pockets, but with a tremendous drive to succeed. My grandparents saved up and opened a restaurant in Ottawa called the Laurier Tea Room, which did booming business after the war. This song is an ode to the many who came to the New World planning to work hard and save up enough to bring their loved ones over.”

The icing on the cake was traveling to New York to meet with Sammy Figueroa and have him record congas on the track. Besides playing with some of the world’s greatest pop stars, such as David Bowie, Chaka Khan, and Mariah Carey, Sammy has also played with a multitude of distinguished jazz artists including Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, George Benson, and many, many more.

“The larger Refuge Project is centered around the positive contributions of refugees and new immigrants to Canada and the U.S.,” McKhool says. “We are bringing in special guests that are newcomers to this land, essential Indigenous voices, as well as global talents that have been ambassadors for peace.”

Sanctuary is the second installment in Sultans of String’s Refuge Project, with the first, simply entitled Refuge, heralded as “a fantastic, moving, dreamlike, epic, timely album” by Ken Micallef (Jazz Times, Stereophile, Downbeat), and winning many awards — including Producer of the Year at the 2021 Canadian Folk Music Awards for bandleader and violinist Chris McKhool.

Check out “Hurricane” below, and stay up to date with Sultans of String via their socials.

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