Six String Nation | Celebrating 10 Years of Voyageur

June 30, 2016
Jowi-Taylor-SexsmithJune 15th 2016 marked a very special day for speaker Jowi Taylor. Not only was it his birthday, but it also marked 10 years to the day since the Voyageur guitar came off George Rizsanyi’s workbench in Pinehurst, Nova Scotia. The instrument would have its official public unveiling on Parliament Hill on Canada Day. The Voyageur is the core of Six String Nation project, Jowi’s search for a symbol that would represent all Canadians beyond the usual cliches. It was all sparked at a time when the nation was struggling to establish its own identity. Quebec’s second referendum narrowly avoided the province proclaiming national sovereignty. Jowi felt compelled to tell the story of a unified nation. After more than a decade crisscrossing the country hearing first-hand stories of culture and history, Jowi was able to gather 64 pieces of material, each of which was a unique representation of the nation’s heritage. Famed guitar maker George Rizsanyi assembled these pieces into one powerful symbol of Canadian identity: the Voyageur guitar. Stephen Fearing-VoyageurOn Canada Day of 2006, guitarist and songwriter Stephen Fearing had the honours of playing the first song on the instrument: an unforgettable version of his song “The Longest Road.” That day 80,000 people had the pleasure of being the first to witness this amazing story firsthand. This year, the Voyageur returns to the nation’s capital to celebrate its 10-year birthday. The guitar will take part in a noon show on Parliament Hill as part of the Olympic tribute. Then from 2:00pm-6:00pm Jowi heads over to the Canadian Museum of History where he’ll host a special portrait session. If you’re in the area, we hope you are able to stop by, meet Jowi and see this piece of history first hand! Jowi continues to travel across the country to tell the story of a multi-cultural Canada; offering a vision of Canada that is both local and national in an object that is both an artifact and a living, breathing instrument. When asked about what he enjoys about delivering his presentations, Jowi had this to say:
Every time I start the presentation I can feel the moment when those don’t already know about it lock in – the moment when they realize that no one’s about to offer them advice or share secrets for success or do a song and dance. They get wrapped up in the story just in time to realize that the story is their own. And when a musician finally steps up to bring Voyageur to life, it’s someone they know.
As we near 2017, Jowi’s message becomes all the more relevant. He’s crafted up a special Canada 150 presentation titled ‘The story of Canada as you’ve never held it before.’ In this compelling and visually dazzling storytelling presentation, Jowi captures the essence of every community he speaks to – from an investors’ retreat to a First Nations school assembly – and connects it directly into a conception of Canada that is at once historical, contemporary, dynamic, personal, emotional, generous, inclusive, proudly Canadian and – for our sesquicentennial – incredibly timely.

To learn more about Jowi and how his presentation can inspire your audience view his NSB profile or contact us.

Fun Six String Nation Facts:

  • Jowi doesn’t actually play the guitar! He believes his job is to relay the stories embedded in the object.
  • In 2009 The Royal Canadian Mint commissioned a unique collector coin in the shape of a guitar pick in honour of Jowi’s project.
  • Over 8,000 Canadians have held the guitar.
  • Over 50,000 Portraits have been taken with the guitar.