Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars bring message of hope to Kahilu

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With their infectious, spirited and uplifting fusion of West African rhythms, roots reggae and traditional folk music, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars have risen like a phoenix out of the ashes of war and aroused the passions of fans across the globe with their uplifting songs of hope, faith and joy. The band is a potent example of the redeeming power of music and the ability of the human spirit to persevere through unimaginable hardship and emerge with optimism intact.

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With their infectious, spirited and uplifting fusion of West African rhythms, roots reggae and traditional folk music, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars have risen like a phoenix out of the ashes of war and aroused the passions of fans across the globe with their uplifting songs of hope, faith and joy. The band is a potent example of the redeeming power of music and the ability of the human spirit to persevere through unimaginable hardship and emerge with optimism intact.

The group takes the stage for one Big Island performance at 7 p.m. May 1 at Kahilu Theatre in Waimea. The performance is made possible by sponsorship from Kate Bell and Tom Blackburn, Mimi and Brian Kerley, Rebecca Keliihoomalu, and Michele Varin.

Throughout the 1990s, the West African country of Sierra Leone was wracked with a bloody war that forced millions to flee their homes. The musicians that would eventually form Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars are all originally from Freetown, and they were forced to leave the city at various times in the wake of violent rebel attacks. Most of those that left the country made their way into neighboring Guinea, some ending up in refugee camps and others struggling to fend for themselves in the capital city of Conakry.

“It’s been a long struggle out of the war, out of miserable conditions,” said Ruben Koroma. “We try to bring out sensitive issues that are affecting the world. It is all of our responsibility that the masses are suffering. We bring our positive messages into the world so we can expect a positive change in the world. And, most importantly, bring about peace.”

The senseless deaths and illnesses of friends and family, including some of the band’s original members, and the slimming hope for great change in their country as a result of peace, has only strengthened the resolve of Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars to do what they can to turn their country around. Their weapon in this struggle is music, and their message, while offering critique and condemnation of wrongdoing, remains positive and hopeful. Optimism in the face of obstacles, and the eternal hope for a better future motivates their lives and music.

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After a 10-year plus adventure that has taken them from the squalor of refugee camps to the world’s biggest stages Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars are hailed as one of Africa’s top touring and recording bands. The group’s albums and live shows embody and radiate the joy, passion for music and love for their fellow man that have made Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars a living testament to the resilience of the human spirit and an inspiration to hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.

Tickets are $66/$56/$36/$20 and can be purchased online at kahilutheatre.org or by calling 885-6868. Tickets can also be purchased Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office at 67-1186 Lindsey Road in Waimea.

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