For Canadian musician Crystal Shawanda, adaptation and transformation were necessary survival strategies – from growing up in Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island, to attending high school in Sault Ste. Marie, to moving to Nashville (twice) to further her career.
So, when a fan presented her with a butterfly wing necklace following her performance in Cobalt, Ont. last weekend, Shawanda was deeply moved.
“I believe in signs and I believe in trying to look for inspiration from the smallest things to the biggest things,” she told SooToday during a recent phone interview. “For me, butterflies have always symbolized transformation. I feel like I’m always evolving – from going to high school (in the Sault) and growing up on Manitoulin Island and then moving off to Nashville – and finding my wings and just finding my way through it all.”
It’s not the first time Shawanda’s fans have bestowed gifts upon her. In fact, it’s a fairly regular occurrence. And the most common sentiment disclosed by her gift-giving admirers is: “Take me with you.” These tokens are expressions of gratitude from those she inspires and welcome reminders of each devoted fan, she said.
Shawanda is scheduled to return to Sault Ste. Marie for a performance at The Machine Shop on Friday.
“I had so much support from the community in Sault Ste. Marie,” she said. “At my high school, all my fellow students were always encouraging me. It was always a positive surrounding. And all of the teachers, there was a lot of support there.”
A graduate of Korah Collegiate, Shawanda performed a number of times at Northern Ontario Country Music Association events and enjoyed regular gigs at Reggie’s Tavern.
“I’ve had so much support from different sides of Sault Ste. Marie, so it means a lot to come back to one of the cities that supported me the most in the beginning,” she said.
Shawanda and her band, which includes her husband and guitar player Dewayne Strobel, are easing their way back into performance life on the road. Earlier this year, the pair welcomed a gift of their own to the world – their baby daughter Zhaawande Naomi Rose Strobel.
While balancing motherhood and a music career can be somewhat of a challenge, Shawanda said, “becoming a mother keeps me motivated to keep doing what I'm doing and inspires me to take chances with my career.”
“We’re both here to get through it together,” she added. “It’s a lot of fun. We’re enjoying it. We really wanted her and prayed for her, so we’re enjoying every minute of it.”
Doors for Shawanda’s Friday performance at The Machine Shop open at 7 p.m. with the show beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets, currently available at the Community Box Office in the Station Mall and the Machine Shop Box Office, are $35 each. You can also get tickets online.