Although the musicians of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars endured a hell unimaginable to most of us, they now create heavenly music whose fundamental message is the unbeatable troika of peace, love, and understanding. Most of the band's members met in a refugee camp in Guinea, having been forced into exile by a decade-long civil war at home. When peace was restored, the group returned to Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, and were reunited with lead singer and songwriter Reuben Koroma's former band, the Emperors, and together recorded their debut album, Living Like a Refugee (Anti-). Although obviously informed by their horrendous experience, Refugee transcends bitterness, riding a buoyant blend of roots reggae, traditional Sierra Leonean music, and bits of regional Afro-pop such as juju and highlife. Irrepressible joy flows through the Stars' warm, percolating rhythms and effervescent vocals, tied to a uplifting spirit that has made them worldwide ambassadors for peace and reconciliation.
Mon., March 3, 7:30 p.m., 2008