All the members of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars lived in or near Sierra Leone's capital city before fleeing Freetown during the country's decade-long civil war. Throughout most of the 1990s, Freetown remained relatively sheltered from the rebel war that had turned much of the West African nation into a bloody battlefield. Near the turn of the 21st century, however, rebels attacked the city and forced a panicked mass exodus to neighboring countries. Among the thousands who fled were musicians and future bandmates Reuben M. Koroma and Franco (Francis Langba) who connected in Kalia Refugee Camp in Guinea. When Reuben and his wife Grace located Franco they began making music for their fellow refugees, providing a welcome distraction to life in the camps. Their efforts, however, were to be short lived. Safety in the Kalia camp disintegrated when it came under attack from the Guinean army and citizenry who believed the camps were being used as staging grounds for rebel attacks against Guinea. With refugee camps now war zones, the initial band members were evacuated from the area and moved to Sembakounya Refugee Camp. Set deep in the remote Guinean countryside, it was here that, thanks to a Canadian refugee aid organization, the developing band was able to acquire the rusted-out sound system and beat up electric guitars that helped officially launch the group.
Now, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars tour the world spreading their message of peace and love in a "can't help but dance" show that fans from all musical backgrounds can enjoy. With a spirited and infectious fusion of traditional West African music, roots reggae and rhythmic traditional folk, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars craft music that transforms and uplifts. The collection of songs on their debut album, Living Like A Refugee, decry the horrors of war and describe the plight of refugee life. They have lived through unimaginable tragedy and yet Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars have become an inspiration and a symbol of the healing power of music.
Visit the Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars website: