MORRISBURG – “When I made the switch from county to blues, the transition wasn’t easy,” said Juno Award winning singer, Crystal Shawanda, during her July 17 Harmony concert at Stone Crop Acres Winery. “But at the end of the day, I’m just trying to figure out who I am, and where I am going, and I really have to follow my heart.”
Follow her heart she did in her powerhouse Winery concert, backed up by her very talented lead guitarist (and husband) Dewayne Strobel and fellow musicians Alex Fraser and Al Webster.
Shawanda, who possesses a highly distinctive, husky, blues voice, very reminiscent of the late Janis Joplin, stunned the crowd with her strength and her passion for music.
She is a dynamo on stage. Her selections ranged from Etta James’ ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ to the rousing Mo’Town standard, ‘Stand By Me,’ and the Tragically Hip’s ‘New Orleans is Sinking.’
Several songs came from her 2020 album, Church House Blues, which won the 2021 Juno for Blues Album of the Year. “When I said I wanted to be a singer, at age 11, my parents knew nothing about music. Mom took me to the church to sing, Dad took me to Honkytonks, anywhere live music was playing. Church House Blues grew out of those experiences.”
She absolutely loves to sing: her voice is a powerhouse of an instrument. In numbers like ‘Everything But the Blues’ and ‘Ball and Chain’ (requested by an audience member) she often featured Dewayne’s gritty and outstanding guitar work.
Shawanda confided to the audience, “We don’t put together a set list for our concerts, because I always decide to do completely different songs once I’m on stage.”
Crystal Shawanda puts her soul into her music, her emotions and heart raw and out there, when she performs. The crowd loved her concert, many getting to their feet to dance. She was called back for a well-deserved encore, KoKo Taylor’s ‘All Night Long,’ marking the end of a great evening of soul-stirring blues at the Winery.