JUNO Award Winning Crystal Shawanda Talks New Album

Feels Like A ‘Fish Out Of Water’

At the age of 16, Shawanda moved to Nashville, where she was discovered by an executive from RCA Records and signed to a deal. Her 2008 RCA release, Dawn of a New Day, spawned the hit ballad You Can Let Go. The album entered the Canadian Country charts at number 2 and the Billboard Country chart at 16, eventually selling more than 400,000 copies.

She was named CCMA Female Artist of the Year in 2008, won Best New Country Artist honours at the 2009 Canadian Radio Music Awards, and was nominated for two JUNOs that same year.

In 2013, Shawanda’s country album ‘Just Like You’ earned the JUNO for Aboriginal Album of the Year.

Today, this JUNO Award Winner is back with a soulful, rootsy sound that has allowed for a nearly seamless bridging of the traditional country and blues worlds, Shawanda’s unique aboriginal cultural background has left her feeling like an outsider at times.

“I always felt like a bit of an outsider on the country scene and some people in the blues community said I didn’t sound like real blues. So I was discouraged. I didn’t know what to do or what direction to go so I called my mom and cried my eyes out. I told her I still felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere personally or musically and sometimes I feel like a fish out of water trying to fly,” she said.

“And she said, ‘maybe that’s what you are. Just write about it, embrace it, and you will find other people who feel the same way you do.’ So Fish Out of Water was the first song we wrote and it became the inspiration and whole theme for the album. It’s a universal message to not be afraid of who you are, where you come from and where you are going. And that it’s okay to not fit in sometimes.”

Shawanda grew up on a First Nations reserve on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, and was introduced to both country and blues music through family members at a young age.

“I feel this album is a happy medium for me. It’s a little bluesy, a little country, a little rootsy, but with a lot of soul” says Shawanda.  

“I love every song on this album and I want to perform them all live. I really think I have hit my stride: this album is who I am, I really have found my voice, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Shawanda’s upcoming plans:

My plans for the coming year are to continue touring excessively, and balancing that with a new little baby, which I will be having in February!

 Biggest country and blues music influences: 

My biggest country music influence is Loretta Lynn, because of how honest she was as a person, and how that translated to her as an artist and through her music! My biggest blues influence was Etta James, because of her pure unbridled power, and how her heart aches came through every note of her music!

Listen now!