Living like a refugee, it's not easy. I just take all the problems, the suffering of the people and make a song of it.
You left your country to seek refuge in another man's land
You will be comforted by strange dialects
You will be fed with unusual diets
You got to sleep in a tarpaulin house which is so hot
You will sleep on a tarpaulin mat which is so cold
Living like a refugee is not easy…
17 December 2010. SLRAS (Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars) began playing music together in a refugee camp in West Africa, when their homeland was torn by years of bloody wars. Since then, crowds around the world have followed the band and their absolutely amazing history.
In their album "Rise & Shine" (Cumbancha label) published March 23, 2010, the sound of "Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars" as well as their biography, progresses further; the identity of their music "is based on experience, fantasiy and charisma as well as their touching story, "wrote The Los Angeles Times.
Following their acclaimed first album, "Living Like a Refugee", the band began recording their second album in Freetown, Sierra Leone, then traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, to work with Steve Berlin (renowned producer of, among others, Los Lobos, Angelique Kidjo, Rickie Lee Jones, Michelle Shocked, Alec Ounsworth, Jackie Greene) at Piety Street Recording.
The All Stars immediately felt comfortable in New Orleans, not only for the warm and spicy food that reminded them of Africa, but also because the inhabitants of the "Crescent City" have direct experience with bitterness of exile and redemption of the power of music.
Local musicians who have contributed to the record (including Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, Bonerama and Washboard Chaz) have put a spirit of celebration and optimism to confront the fight.
"Rise & Shine" reflects the band's journey in the past 5 years, after several tours and recording sessions with the likes of Aerosmith and Mavis Staples.
Under the expert guidance of a producer, SLRAS has made a unique and incredibly coherent sound: the fusion of traditional West African music and reggae roots, contaminated by New Orleans styles.
The 13 songs on the CD cover the broad panorama of musical influences encountered by the All Stars, along their ascent to international stardom.
Group members differ in age and character despite being strongly linked by their experiences and values. They all lived through the war and struggled to survive in one of the poorest countries in the world and share a belief in the transformative power of music.
The current set-up of the group was consolidated when Reuben M. Koroma, author of the lyrics and band leader, returned home from the refugee camps, was joined by Black Nature, an orphaned boy rapper, Mohammed Bangura, whose hands were amputated by rebels, and by Francis John Langba.
Back in Sierra Leone, they were reunited with their families and friends and previous band members, Ashad Pearce, Jah Bull and His Makengo Kamara, who they did not believe had survived violence.
The band's journey, culminating in the first studio recording, gave life to a documentary.
Entitled "Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars" and directed by Zach Niles and Banker White, this documentary has won several international awards.
And the album in question, "Living Like A Refugee" has also given international recognition to the group, including top rank fans like Keith Richards (Rolling Stones), Sir Paul McCartney (Beatles), Aerosmith, Angelina Jolie and Ice Cube.
The group SLRAS has already participated in some of the most prestigious festivals in the world, such as Bonnaroo, Montreal Jazz, Fuji Rock in Japan, Central Park SummerStage and Celebrate Brooklyn.