Sultans of String continue to offer musical refuge to artists like Juan Carlos Medrano on their latest single Mi Santuario — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
A preview of the acclaimed global music outfit’s upcoming eighth album Sanctuary, the song features the four core Sultans and Colombian musician Medrano, who co-wrote the music and sings his original lyrics, as well as performing on gaita, the traditional flute.
Originally from Cartagena, Medrano moved to Canada in 2006 as a refugee. “It was tough back home, lack of opportunity for people like me, people that look like me, Afro-Colombian” he says. “We were not comfortable with the system, the rules, and how they treat their people. I love the culture; I love the music; everything. But in my head was the idea that I need to leave this place because I want more: Internal peace, and being happy doing what I love — that was to go to school, to go to university … To just make it to university was a big deal.”
Now an educator, Medrano says “it’s time for me now to give back to this beautiful country. Back home, people don’t talk about native people, aboriginal people, or how they struggle inside this beautiful country. So the way for me to pay back [is to] inspire these little kids. And my main goal is to bring music, to bring art together, and give these kids hope.”
Mi Santuario is the first single from Sanctuary, the second instalment in the Sultans’ Refuge Project. Out in November, the ambitious, diverse, inclusive and passionately political album puts the band face-to-face with a VIP roster of global ambassadors — some of whom are recent immigrants and refugees to Canada — as well as important Indigenous voices. All are masters of world music who communicate through the global language of sound, helping Sultans of String bring their brand of musical synergy and collaboration to bear on songs that speak to the challenges facing the world’s displaced peoples — their stories, their songs, their persistence and their humanity.
“The larger Refuge Project is centred around the positive contributions of refugees and new immigrants to Canada,” bandleader and violinist Chris McKhool explains. “We are bringing in special guests that are newcomers to this land, as well as global talents that have been ambassadors for peace. We wish to celebrate the successes of those who make the journey here, and bring their extraordinary talents with them, in this case music. Each one of us has a remarkable story to tell, and we are excited to share the beauty of these collaborations with you.”
Sanctuary features performances by Tara and Ahmed Moneka from Iraq, Amchok Gompo from Tibet, Donné Roberts from Madagascar with partner Yukiko Tsutsui from Japan, Algeria’s Fethi Nadjem, Juan Carlos Medrano, Syrian refugee Leen Hamo, Iran’s Padideh Ahrarnejad, Nyckelharpa player Saskia Tomkins. It also includes new versions of songs off Refuge. These include an orchestral version of The Power of the Land featuring Indigenous performers Duke Redbird and Twin Flames, Turkish pop star Suat Suna singing Hurricane, and flamenco artist Tamar Ilana singing Asi Soy.