May 19, 2024

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Interview with Crystal Shawanda: Stop diluting the market, that’s how we will truly grow the audience in the blues genre: Video

Interview with Blues vocalist Crystal Shawanda. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music.  How exactly did your adventure take off? 

Crystal Shawanda: – I grew up on the Wiikwemkoong First Nations, on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada. My Dad was a closet singer and guitar player and my Mom loved to sing along with her favorite songs. My parents listened to classic country, and my brothers listened to Blues and rock and roll, there was was no specific genre in our home, I learned early on there’s only good music and bad music. From an early age I could see that my whole family leaned on music like it was cheap therapy. Music was like a friend to them, and could turn their whole day around, and I wanted to do that, be a friend to people through my music too,I wanted to make people happy. I jumped on stage when I was 6,and there was a funny moment in that song and everyone started to laugh, and I remember I could actually feel their happiness, and I knew then that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I started getting paid to sing when I was 10,and never looked back. There’s never been a plan B, singing is all I’ve ever done.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

CSH: – Well professionally I started out singing country music,but behind the scenes I was digging into every kind of music I could find,old blues and rock and roll,the new R&B and soul that was happening in the 90’s,took voice lessons in college when I thought for a minute that I wanted to be an opera singer. Over the years I have taken the best parts of everything I’ve learned,or rather what I felt was useful to me and I apply it to make my own technique. I listen to myself from recordings and live shows,and I choose to have no ego and be my own worst critic,I’m never satisfied,it can always be better. But it basically never stops,I’m always discovering new and old music everyday,being inspired by the amazing talent out there in all genres,and then revisit the legends that inspired me originally and see what different thing can I take away from this music,this time,and just always learning,always evolving,it never stops.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

CSH: – I’m a road warrior so I’m always playing shows and always staying in practice. But when I’m not on the road which is rare, I practice at home and sing along to all styles of music to keep my chops up in every way.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

CSH: – Yes I’m always changing, always evolving, always improving. My technique is more precise then it was even just 5 years ago, because I can be honest with myself about the things I need to work on. No ego.

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

CSH: – It all starts with soul,I need to mean everything I sing and write and perform. Then I consider the technical side of everything, but then I let go and lose myself in the soul again.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

CSH: – I cannot deliver it any other way. When I sing a song I transport back to the time when I was going through whatever the song is about, because that’s the only way to get the song out of me.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in blues when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

CSH: – I think we need to keep evolving while still preserving the roots of the blues, it can be done, acts like Joe Bonamassa, Southern Avenue, Samantha Fish, Gary Clark Jr, they’re doing it, and bringing in a whole new audience.

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

CSH: – I think the meaning of life is to figure out who we are and what is our purpose, to trust our path, and not let the distractions of fitting in and others peoples opinions, lead us away from we were meant to do on this earth. I think music is spiritual, and it’s how I translate my spirit, but my spirit is so much more than music. My spirit is who I am, my music is the gift that was given to me and so I need to honor that always in a good way. But that’s just me though!

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

CSH: – That the gate keepers who listen with their pockets and their eyes would stop,and start listening with their ears. Quality needs to matter. Stop diluting the market,that’s how we will truly grow the audience in the blues genre,that’s the only way.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

CSH: – I listen to a lot of Joe Bonamassa, Samantha Fish, Gary Clark Jr, and Leon Bridges, Kingfish, Joann Shaw Taylor, Southern Avenue, Albert Castiglia, and I’m still on Buddy Guy and his new stuff, and Ruth Browns classics, I also love Brittany Howard, and Florence and the machine! Honestly I be listening to everything.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

CSH: – I’d like to go back to when I was a kid,and just be home with my family. I left home at 13 to pursue my snick education,and I didn’t realize that was the end for my childhood and I would never be a kid again. Sometimes I regret how I made the choice to grow up so fast.

JBN: – Do You like our questions? 

CSH: – Yes I’ve enjoyed these questions, they were different than the usual.

JBN: – And we didn’t like the way your managers worked, as if we had to do something, that’s why there is nothing about your CD in the interview. Be careful with your communication with the media or you will have problems.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Note: You can express your consent and join our association, which will give you the opportunity to perform at our Jazz and Blues festivals in Europe and Boston, naturally receiving an appropriate royalty. We cover all expenses. The objectives of the interview are: How to introduce yourself, your activities, thoughts and intellect, and make new discoveries for our US/EU Jazz & Blues Association, which organizes festivals, concerts and meetings in Boston and various European countries, why not for you too!! You can read more about the association here. https://jazzbluesnews.com/2022/11/19/us-eu-jba/

Crystal Shawanda « Tourism Regina

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