Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Pour House Hosts Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars

Hope and optimism can spring from many situations, even a seemingly negative event such as war.  For Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, an unfavorable circumstance became one of opportunity and promise.  The band was brought together in 1997 when civil war forced Ruben Koroma and his wife Grace to seek refuge in Kalia, a refugee camp that bordered Sierra Leone.  While there, Koroma joined guitarist Idrissa Bangura (Mallam) and bassist Francis John Langba (Franco) in creating music to entertain fellow refugees. From there, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars was created.

While spending time at the Sembakounya Camp, the group was noticed by American filmmakers, Zach Niles and Banker White.  They were inspired by the musicians and the joy they brought to the refugees in times of despair and hopelessness. The filmmakers started to follow the band and documented their journey from camp to camp for the next three years, resulting in the film, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars.  It's a compelling story of perseverance, hope and the healing power of music. 

When writing their first album, Living Like a Refugee in 2006, it was unplugged, natural, and written while sitting around the camp fire.  Now, the band has released their fourth album, Libation, with producer Chris Velan.  According to the band members, the inspiration and purpose behind the album is to " respect to the dead; within the past ten years we have lost four members of the band, but we still feel that they are connected to us in everything we do, so we would like to pay respect to them."  The sound returns to the simplified acoustic instruments used in their first album, mixing the old with the new, creating an upbeat and positive vibe.  Each band member contributes to writing, so many different stories are told from varying perspectives.  Overall, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars wish to send, "messages of hope that will help people maintain peace in their communities."

Through the years, this group has had the fortune of sharing their powerful message to large crowds at festivals such as Bonnaroo, New York's Central Park SummerStage, and Japan's Fuji Rock Festival.  They have worked with and been supported by artists like Sir Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Ice Cube, Angelina Jolie, and U2.  One of their most memorable moments was opening for the legendary Aerosmith at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut to 12,000 music lovers.

The success has been great for this group, but they don't plan on stopping any time soon.  They are looking forward to releasing a fifth album next year and intend on sharing their message of peace, hope, and harmony through their music. To learn more about the and purchase their album, visit their website

Raleigh is fortunate to have such an inspirational group playing at The Pour House Thursday, May 1.  The supporting artists for the night is the Senegalese band, Kaira Ba. To read more about this charismatic group, check out our previously posted profile.  The doors open at 7:30 and the show starts at 8. 

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