NSB Logo Jowi Taylor Jowi Taylor

Jowi Taylor


Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Cultural Entrepreneur, Award-winning Broadcaster and Progressive Patriot

“The story of Canada as you’ve never held it before.” Jowi’s audacious Six String Nation project distills stories of diverse cultures, communities, characters and events from every province and territory of Canada into a single guitar called Voyageur – an object that is at once touchstone, talking-stick and living instrument. Jowi’s presentation goes beyond Canada’s cultural clichés, galvanizing audiences with a story  that is as deeply personal as each individual in the room and as vast as the country itself.

Keynote Speeches

The Six String Nation Guitar

Officially nicknamed Voyageur at a ceremony in Winnipeg in February 2008 – this guitar is an instrument unlike any in the world. The guitar is quite literally a piece of Canadian history…. or 64 pieces of history to be exact. All of the materials from which the guitar is constructed are contributions from different cultures, communities and characters that, together, tell the story of a multi-cultural Canada; offering a vision of Canada that is at once local and national in an object that is both an artifact and a living, breathing instrument.

Who are we as Canadians?

Crafting a broad sense of “National Identity” is a challenge in a country like Canada, with its diverse and dynamic population, disparate regions, histories and cultures – not to mention a whole lot of territory to cover. Jowi’s compelling multi-media presentation rises to that challenge through the story of the creation of the one-of-a-kind Six String Nation guitar, Voyageur – “common ground” that you can literally hold in your hand. Jowi and his photographer have travelled with Voyageur to every province and territory in Canada, and along the way have taken over 150,000 portraits of over 15,000 people holding the guitar. Though the portrait component of Jowi’s presentation is optional, it makes the opportunity for sharing this unique experience very real – bringing Jowi’s story to vivid life and putting it in the hands of your organization and your audience.

The story of Canada as you’ve never held it before

What does it mean to be Canadian in 2017? What does Canada mean to the world after 150 years of Confederation? Jowi anticipated these questions and the many diverse answers they’d elicit with the creation of his Six String Nation project – centred around a world-exclusive acoustic guitar literally built from pieces of history and heritage that reveal the stories of different communities, cultures, characters and events from every part of Canada. In a 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. [/nsb]

Audience reviews:

  • Jowi's concept resonates with our own public programming mission at the NCC and we have continued to invite him back... He has proven to be an excellent animator, host and story-teller. He speaks compellingly about the evolution of his project and, in conjunction with the extraordinary footage and photographs he has gathered, he elicits powerful emotional responses from audiences. With his wide knowledge of Canada, and through the specific histories vested in the Six String Nation guitar itself, he makes people feel and identify with Canada's vast national story at a very personal level.

    - Director, Public Programming/Directeur des programmes publics
  • Your captivating style, professionalism, and candor with which you shared your experience was noted by many. We appreciated your preparedness and ease with which we worked to coordinate your session.

    - Director of Marketing and Communications | Coaching Association of Canada
  • The Six String Nation Guitar is not only built from different narratives, but also creates a new story about Canada every time it's picked up. Recognizing this immediately, the authors and audience of the International Festival of Authors lined up to see and hold the guitar, eager not to miss this great opportunity to contribute their own verse.

    - Artistic Associate, International Festival of Authors
  • May be the best presentation I have ever seen.

    - Simon Whitfield, Triathlete, Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist
  • Jowi was fantastic and was very well received by our group...He was also a delight to work with.

    - Director, Trade Association Services, Credit Union Central of Canada

Speaker Biography

Jowi Taylor is a multiple award winning writer, broadcaster, consultant and cultural entrepreneur. His groundbreaking  series for CBC Radio, The Wire: The Impact of Electricity on Music, was the recipient of the prestigious Peabody Award, the Prix Italia, a New York Festivals medal and other international awards. Other internationally celebrated content for CBC included The Nerve: Music and the Human Experience, Invisible Cities and the long-running weekly show Global-Village.

Six String Nation, conceived in 1995, took eleven years to bring to life. Centered around a single acoustic guitar – nicknamed Voyageur and built from over sixty pieces of Canadian history representing different cultures, communities and characters from every part of the country – the project combines Jowi’s fascinations with music, media, community engagement, and the dynamics of Canadian history and multicultural identity. His presentation about the project can be seen at schools, festivals, community and corporate events and his bestselling book for Canadian publisher Douglas & McIntyre, Six String Nation: 64 Pieces. 6 Strings. 1 Canada. 1 Guitar, is available from online sellers and bookstores across Canada as well as directly from Jowi at selected events. He continues to work developing other media, community and collaborative projects locally, nationally and internationally. This unique combination of skills lead to his being chosen as host of a new CBC radio show called Global-Village.

Over its decade on-air, Global-Village garnered countless international awards, including the prestigious Prix Italia, the Gabriel Award, the New York Festivals Award and multiple prizes from Germany’s Deutsche Welle Radio. At the same time, Jowi began work on other radio projects within CBC. His first series with co-producers Paolo Pietropaolo and Chris Brookes, The Wire: The Impact of Electricity on Music, won a 2006 Peabody Award, a Prix Italia, a New York Festivals Award and the Third Coast Audio Festival Director’s Choice Award. Their next team project, Invisible Cities: Toronto also earned a New York Festivals prize and their Wire follow-up series The Nerve: Music and the Human Experience was nominated for a Peabody and won a 2009 New York Festivals Award.

Jowi left the CBC at the end of 2008. Along the way, Jowi has written for publications such as Shift and Montage and served as a board member with the Images Festival, ImagineNative and the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals. He’s been guest speaker and panelist at countless conferences and festivals but it’s really his Six String Nation project that has occupied most of his heart in recent years. Conceived in 1995, the project to build a guitar using pieces of historical and cultural materialfrom every part of Canada took 11 years to come to completion. That happened before a crowd of some 80,000 people on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Canada Day 2006.

Since then, Voyageur (the guitar’s official nickname) has travelled well over 200,000km across the country appearing at festivals, conferences, concerts and schools. It’s been played by hundreds of Canada’s best musicians and been held by over 8000 different Canadians in a series of some 50,000 portraits that ranks as one of Canada’s most ambitious photo projects. The story of the guitar and a selection of those portraits is the subject of his 2009 book for publisher Douglas & McIntyre, Six String Nation: 64 Pieces. 6 Strings. 1 Canada. 1 Guitar. The project is also the subject of a unique 2009 commemorative collector coin in the shape of a guitar-pick from the Royal Canadian Mint.