Blues in her bones: Crystal Shawanda sings at Harvest

Portrait of Juno Award winner and blues singer Crystal Shawanda. (Submitted: Nora Canfield.)

Crystal Shawanda played at Harvest on Sept. 14, making her public groove to the rhythm of the blues.

“It was a packed house, everybody was dancing…We really hope someday we get to come back,” she said.

Shawanda started with country music and later, she changed to blues. In 2021, she won the Best Blues Album of the Year for her album Church House Blues at the JUNO awards. This made her the first Indigenous artist to win in this category.

“It was amazing. I’ve always tried to do things to break down barriers and open doors,” said Shawanda.“To be the first was amazing. I’m excited thinking about the future for other Indigenous artists.”

Shawanda said when she started singing blues songs, she discovered the potential her voice has. Since her first blues album came out in 2015, she “never looked back.”

“The more I would do those songs, the more I realized I’m much happier singing those songs,” she said.

She said her music is reaching different generations. Fans used to go to her shows when they were just kids and now they are coming to her concert with their babies.

“Memories are there because they reminded me how long I’ve been doing this. How long some of my fans have been with me and I’m just grateful for it.”

After playing at Harvest, she felt very welcomed by the organizers and volunteers, as well as having a “very energetic crowd.”

Avery Wright, a science student at the University of New Brunswick, went to see Crystal Shawanda play.

She said blues is not usually the genre of music she listens to, but she wanted to live the Harvest experience and try something different.

“[I] get to experience different music styles I’ve never experienced before,” she said.

Wright said everyone was dancing and singing. She added they were coming together for the same purpose — “to enjoy music and the environment.”

She said she enjoyed not only the rhythm of Shawanda’s music but also the story behind her songs.

“It brings a different perspective to the song. It’s no longer just a sound; it’s a completely new experience full of energy that you are getting through her performance,” said Wright.