Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars in Brooklyn to record new CD

Amid the snowiest January in recent memory, the members of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars have been camped in Brooklyn, working on their third album.  Anyone who knows the story of how this band formed in refugee camps of Guinea during Sierra Leone's heartbreaking civil war knows these guys are well accustomed to adversity.  But playing instruments and singing while bundled in parkas and multiple wool hats is something they never expected to endure.

When Afropop visited the studio to see how things were going, the sounds were sweet, but the smiles a tad forced.  Cold weather is just not part of these guys' experience, and working under such conditions makes a huge contrast to the experience of making their last album in Sierra Leone and sweltering New Orleans.  The group's youngest member, Black Nature, suggested that the cold might actually be inspiring them to bring new heat to the music.  Meanwhile, the space heater remained the musicians' best friend.

Aside from the climate challenge, the musicians were feeling a little blue, having days before received the news that a founding member, Franco, had died in Freetown.  Reuben Koroma was particularly sad about this, as his duo with Franco was the original spark for this band.  Anyone who has seen the film The Refugee All Stars will remember the sweet scenes of the two of them banging out songs in a camp on an acoustic guitar, and singing their hearts out.  This is a tragedy, and that much harder to absorb so far from home.

Reuben Koroma

For anyone within striking distance of Brooklyn, the band will be playing an intimate gig at Zebulon in Brooklyn on Saturday, January 29, their last performance before heading home to Freetown.  More details in the Events section at

Here's a short video of Black Nature discussing the new album.

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