Hosts Gregg Tilston and Karim Kanji welcome superstar Crystal Shawanda to the studio.Born in Wikwemikong First Nation, on Manitoulin Island, in Northern Ontario, Crystal was introduced to the blues by her eldest brother and to old-time country by her parents. “I was also into other styles of music that led me to the blues,” she says, citing everything from Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog,” written by Big Mama Thornton, to R&B-pop star Monica’s “Misty Blue,” by Dorothy Moore. “I was one of those kids who read the liner notes,” Crystal says. “I wanted to know everything, who are the songwriters, the musicians, the producers, the engineers. I'm always wanting to know who are the originators, who are the mothers of invention, who inspired all of us? I’m a purist at heart, so I was always diving back to learn from the masters, like Etta James, as far as vocalists; Muddy Waters, as far as feeling; and Buddy Guy, as far as stylists who have a lot of swagger.”And yet Crystal’s first foray as a professional singer was in country music, not blues. She was in her early 20s and had immediate success after signing a U.S. record deal with RCA Nashville. 2008’s Dawn of a New Day, featuring the single “You Can Let Go,” reached No. 1 on the Canadian Country Album chart and No. 16 on the Billboard Top Country Albums, the highest charting album by a full-blooded Canadian Indigenous country artist (in the SoundScan-era).
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