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Crystal Shawanda’s country roots run deep. Born Native American, she was automatically country, joined to the land and the real stories of everyday people. To Native Americans, music is everything. It’s their history, their dance, and it is used to remember and to forget. It’s a way to celebrate life and mourn death.
Crystal was born on the Wikwemikong Native Reservation on Canada’s Manitoulin Island in Ontario. She grew up immersed in all styles of music, but country was in her heart. At 12, she accompanied her truck-driver father on a long haul to the southern United States, and visited Nashville for the first time. The very next year, she recorded her first album in Nashville, all of which were songs that she wrote. Over the following several years, she recorded three more independent albums, traveled back and forth to Nashville, honed her craft, and finally got a full-time gig at the famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Nashville’s world-famous Broadway. There, she met her husband and lead guitarist, Dewayne Strobel, where they shared the stage for six years.
While working at Tootsie’s, Crystal began to work with producer Scott Hendricks (Faith Hill, Brooks and Dunn) and it was then in 2007 that Nashville music-business legend Joe Galante signed Crystal to RCA Records/ Sony Music Nashville. Crystal’s first single, “You Can Let Go” , was the fastest rising single in Canadian BDS history, reaching Top 5 in Canada and Top 20 in the US. Her debut album, “Dawn of a New Day”, was released in 2008, was Billboard’s highest charting album by a Native American in history, and sold over 400,000 copies. A CMT six-part documentary also aired in Canada called “Crystal: Living the Dream”, giving fans an inside look at Crystal’s life in Nashville.
In 2009, after five hit singles in Canada including the title track “Try” and “My Roots Are Showing”, and a massive tour with Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley, Crystal was named the Canadian Country Music Association’s Female Artist of the Year.
2010 shaped up to be another amazing year for Crystal, beginning with a cross-Canada tour with Reba McEntire, where Crystal was honoured to perform every night with the living legend for the duet “Does He Love You”. Crystal and her husband Dewayne launched their record label New Sun Records, and released two lead singles off of her forthcoming album, “Beautiful Day” and “Fight For Me”, in Canada. She also performed for 55 million people on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Crystal kicked off 2012 by storming up the country radio charts in January with the infectious track “Closer”, the first single from her upcoming album “Just Like You”. The inaugural release from New Sun Records, “Just Like You” was released on April 24th. A provokingly powerful collection of songs, the record showcases Crystal’s lush, rich voice and heartfelt songwriting. Crystal released her next single, “Down On Broadway”, on May 28th, with the accompanying video burning up CMT. Throughout the summer and fall, she has been touring constantly across both Canada and the United States to support the album.
2013 has already been an amazing year for Crystal, starting with a performance beside the White House on Inauguration Day, and followed by her first Juno Award win for Aboriginal Album of the Year. Crystal will be releasing two EPs this year. The first EP, called “Under the Influence Sessions, Volume 1”, features Crystal singing songs from a previous era from artists including Patsy Cline, Etta James, and Roy Orbison. The second will be a selection of new country songs. Crystal will also be touring extensively at shows and festivals across the USA and Canada.