On the Wikwemikong reserve of Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Crystal Shawanda grew up with country music and the blues. The pain and authenticity in artists’ voices moved her as she sang at funerals at a young age, a witness to alcoholism and depression in her community. Always self-motivated and ambitious, Crystal wrote an album by age 13 and moved to Nashville at 16. There, she was offered a record deal at RCA, despite being told along the way that she was not marketable as a country artist. Her first album awarded her CCMA’s Female Artist of the Year in 2008.