2021 Juno award winner Crystal Shawanda will be playing for her second time at the Lighthouse Blues Festival in Kincardine, which will be taking place from Sept 10 – Sept 12.
Shawanda, who is now based out of Nashville, is originally from Wikwemikong First Nations Reserve on Manitoulin Island. She is a singer and songwriter with a background in country music, but a new focus on Blues. She says her music is inspired by her Ojibwa background.
“The stories that I tell in my songs are always honest, real, raw… for me that’s why I wanted to become a singer and why I started song-writing,” Shawanda explained. “Cheap therapy. Every song I decide to record and release is something that I’ve personally been through, life experiences, and my point of view. It’s a factor of who I am, where I grew up and how I grew up.”
“There’s always some racism in the music industry but I try not to focus on it,” she continued. “I find I have a lot more support so that’s where I put my energy – into the fans, the music, and the support I do have. I try not to dwell on the obstacles and focus on how to get over them.”
Shawanda started out her career when she stepped on stage at the age of four. By ten she was being paid, and at the age of 13 she was in Nashville recording her first album.
She was signed as a country artist to RCA Records in 2007, has produced a top 20 hit on country radio, sold over 50,000 copies in the U.S., and reached top 20 on the Billboard Country Album Chart. She eventually formed her own label and made the switch to Blue’s music, which is where she believed she always belonged.
She has received numerous Juno nominations, and has both Juno and CCMA awards under her belt. Her most recent success was at the Juno’s for Best Blues Album of the Year.
“It never gets old – its always amazing, always an honour,” said Shawanda, when asked about winning. “I feel blessed and lucky that I’m still in the game and that everybody’s still letting me sing. It was amazing.”
This years Juno awards were virtual, and Shawanda spent it at home with her husnad and young daughter, in her Cher shirt and pajamas, eating pizza and donuts.
“When I won I was completely caught off guard,” she laughed. “I honestly didn’t think I was going to win – so I was a little frazzled. Then I pressed the wrong button for my acceptance speech. My four year old was jumping all over me, excited because we’d won.”
“CBC ended up sharing the video and they joked that we won Juno for the most adorable moment of the night,” she continued. “If we were in person we couldn’t have created that amazing memory.”
This will be Shawanda’s second appearance at the Lighthouse Blues Festival, but she’s coming back with a bigger name and a lot more experience.
“I was here once when I was just starting out in the Blues world, and I was one of the first acts – everybody was commenting, ‘isn’t she country music?’ Now I’m back and I’m so excited to really tear it up.”
“I love travelling, we love shows and we love Kincardine,” Shawanda commented. It’s a beautiful part of Canada. I can’t wait to se all the people and being gathered with music lovers alike. It’s always awesome.”
After the Blue’s fest if over, she is headed to Newfoundland, followed by Florida for shows in October. After some shows she’ll head back to the studio to finish her latest album before heading out on a Christmas tour.