Sultans of String: The Refuge Project – Visual Album at the 18th Annual CANADIAN FOLK MUSIC AWARDS!

Press Release

March 15, 2023

SULTANS OF STRING Shine a Light on the Plight of Refugees with its Cannes World Film Festival winning Doc, Sultans of String: The Refuge Project – Visual Album, at the 18th Annual CANADIAN FOLK MUSIC AWARDS

SAT APRIL 1, 2023 – 3:00-5:00pm (PDT)

[Vancouver, BC]  Global Ambassadors of Musical Diversity, SULTANS OF STRING, will shine a light on the Plight of Refugees with its Cannes World Film Festival-winning Documentary, Sultans of String: The Refuge Project – Visual Album, at the 18th Annual CANADIAN FOLK MUSIC AWARDS on Sat April 1, 2023, @ 3pm (PDT).

Leading with four nominations for their “Sanctuary” album (Contemporary, Global Roots, Pushing the Boundaries, and Producer of the Year), this Billboard charting band’s film features music and interviews from “Sanctuary” as well as sister album “Refuge,” both served up under lockdown.

This 1.5-hour screening will be followed by a fun Q&A with bandleader and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient Chris McKhool and co-producer John “Beetle” Bailey, hosted by Michael Tymchuk.

Mixed in full Dolby Atmos, this ambitious, diverse, inclusive, and passionately political film puts this world music supergroup face-to-face with a VIP roster of global ‘ambassadors,’ some of whom are recent immigrants and refugees to Canada and the U.S., as well as essential Indigenous voices. All are masters of global music that communicate with each other through the universal language of music.

Addressing the struggles of life on Mother Earth has always inspired this band. In Sultans of String: The Refuge Project – Visual Album, they bring their unique brand of musical synergy and collaboration to bear on discussion and songs that speak to the challenges facing the world’s displaced peoples—their stories, their songs, their persistence, and their humanity.

Joined by an international cast, this three-time JUNO nominated band immerses itself in the plight of the international refugee and the humanitarian response that should greet everyone in search of a home.

McKhool (whose paternal Makhoul grandfather was from Lebanon) explains, “The larger Refuge Project is centred around the positive contributions of refugees and new immigrants to Canada and the United States. We are bringing in special guests that are newcomers to this land, as well as global talents that have been ambassadors for peace. We wish to celebrate the successes of those who make the journey here and bring their extraordinary talents with them, in this case, music. Each one of us has a remarkable story to tell, and we are excited to share the beauty of these collaborations with you.”

The Refuge Project features stellar performances by Ahmed Moneka and Imad Al Taha, refugees from Iraq, Syrian refugee Leen Hamo, Donné Roberts from Madagascar with partner Yukiko Tsutsui from Japan, Algeria’s Fethi Nadjem, Colombian refugee Juan Carlos Medrano, Iran’s Padideh Ahrarnejad, Romani Nyckelharpa player Saskia Tomkins, tabla player Ravi Naimpally from India, sitar player Anwar Khurshid from Pakistan, string ensemble Gundem Yayli Grubu from Istanbul, and many, many more, including an orchestral version of “The Power of the Land” featuring Indigenous performers Duke Redbird and Twin Flames.

“The true inspiration behind these albums and film is the incredible artists we get to collaborate with,” says McKhool. “We learn so much from these diverse voices, and each one of them is so personally inspiring. As Ahmed Moneka, an artist and refugee from Iraq, says, “Love is the main reason for a great future,” and we are so privileged to be able to collaborate with so many incredible voices on this project.”

The film is receiving industry recognition on the Film Festival circuit, including the Cannes World Film Festival, Vancouver Independent Film Festival, Best Istanbul Film Festival, Paris Movie Festival, Montreal Independent, Hamburg Indie, Boston Independent, and Folk in Film Festivals. 

UNHCR Fundraising Partner


Saturday, April 1, 2023 – 3:00-5:00pm (PDT) 
18th Annual CFMAs to Screen Cannes World Music Festival Award-winning Film: Sultans of String: The Refuge Project – Visual Album
Mel Lehan Hall, St James Community Square, 214 W 10th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 2L2
Free for CFMA attendees/ticket holders | $12 | CFMA 2023 Tickets


Cannes World Film Festival
Best Istanbul Film Festival
Vancouver Independent Film Festival
Lightbox International Film Festival


Paris Movie Festival
Boston Independent Film Awards
California Indies
Montreal Independent Film Festival
Scarab Short Film Festival
8th Music Film Festival
Folk in Film Festival


Chicago Indie Film Awards


Chicago Filmmaker Awards
Hamburg Indie Film Festival
Dublin Movie Awards
Vancouver Movie Awards
Brussels World Film Festival
Berlin Shorts Awards


California Music Video & Film Awards


• 2022 Dr. Duke Redbird Lifetime Achievement Award – JAYU Arts For Human Rights
• 2022 Cannes World Film Festival – Best Musical Film
• 2022 Folk Music Ontario – Song of the Year – Mi Santuario, also nom. for Performer of the Year
• 2022 Canadian Folk Music Awards quadruple nominees – results in April 2023 – Contemporary, Global Roots, Pushing the Boundaries, and Producer of the Year
• 2022 Burlington’s Best Local Musician/Band
• 2021 Canadian Folk Music Awards winner for Producer of the Year with Refuge
• 2021 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominee for Ensemble of the Year with Refuge
• 2021 Canadian Independent Music Association – Pivot Award
• 2021 Markham Performing Arts Awards – Professional Artist of the Year
• 2021 International Songwriting Competition – World Music – Mi Santuario
• 2020 Folk Music Ontario- Songwriting Award – Instrumental – “Refuge”
• 2020 Folk Music Ontario- Songwriting Award – Political – “I Am a Refugee”
• 2020 Independent Music Awards – Instrumental Song of the Year – The Grand Bazaar
• 2020 Independent Music Awards – World Music Producer of the Year – Refuge
• 2019 International Songwriting Competition- Folk semi-finals – “Power of the Land”
• 2019 International Songwriting Competition- Performance semi-finals – “Power of the Land”
• 2018 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominees– Producer of the Year 
• 2018 Music featured in the acclaimed film “Hotel Mumbai” 
• 2017 Billboard World Music Charts  — # 6 
• 2017 JUNO nominees – World Music Album of the Year 
• 2017 New York Times Hits List 
• 2017 Billboard World Music Charts  — # 15 
• 2016 Canada’s High Commission in London UK presents SOS at Trafalgar Square
• 2016 Canadian Folk Music Awards winners– World Music Group of the Year
• 2016 Global Music Awards– World Music / Beats  
• 2016 ISC – Honorable Mention
• 2015 JUNO nominees – Instrumental Album of the Year     
• 2015 TIMA winners – Best World Album
• 2014 SiriusXM Independent Music Awards Winner- World Group of the Year  
• 2014 IMA Independent Music Award Winner – Instrumental 
• 2013 ISC  International Songwriting Competition Winner- Instrumental 
• 2013 Festivals & Events- Performer of The Year  
• 2013 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for bandleader Chris McKhool
• 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards winners– World Music Group of the Year
• 2012 Festivals & Events- Entertainer of The Year  
• 2011 International Acoustic Music Awards Finalist – Instrumental 
• 2011 Independent Music Award 2x Finalist – Instrumental & World Beat Album 
• 2011 ISC International Songwriting Competition 2x Finalist-  Instrumental & World Music 
• 2010 JUNO Award Nominees –  “Instrumental Album of the Year” 
• 2010 Canadian Independent Music Awards nominees- Favorite World Group 
• 2009 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) First Place – Instrumental 
• 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award triple nominee winning Instrumental Group of the Year 
  (also nominated for Ensemble of the Year and Pushing the Boundaries) 
• 2008 International Songwriting Competition Winner (ISC) – Instrumental 
• 2008 Festivals & Events Ontario- Best Variety Act


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